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Police may film interrogations under new proposals

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This would be a very good thing. Welcome to the 21st Century National Police Agency.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

GOOD!

And what nonsense about it being too expensive. Every convenience store in Japan has video cameras. They've become pretty inexpensive.

Many future innocents who will be strong-armed into confessing to things under duration will appreciate this new law if it goes through.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Change "may" to "must" and your good.

Speed is correct, a 25,000 Yen DVR and camera with a 2TB hard drive will last the 23 days of additional "questioning".

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I'm sure there will be a "pre-interview" in a dark corridor somewhere and then the staged "interview" for the cameras.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

However, the advisory panel of experts for Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki remains divided, with police and prosecutors arguing that recording discourages suspects from confessing

What he really means, "cameras make it impossible for us to force suspects into a confession".

16 ( +17 / -1 )

police and prosecutors arguing that recording discourages suspects from confessing

...............good.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Criminal not to have this.

Expensive? How much is a life worth?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

"Police and prosecutors are pushing to limit the expected recording requirement, saying the proposed system comes with a high cost and could discourage confessions from suspects, the Yomiuri said."

What bunch of BS. They'll probably pass something to appease demands but create so many loopholes to still make themselves unaccountable (Who reviews the recordings? Can they be edited? Etc.)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japanese police have a firm hand on the tiller. It's time to change direction and start videotaping police interviews.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

However, the advisory panel of experts for Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki remains divided, with police and prosecutors arguing that recording discourages suspects from confessing and is expensive, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

Utter nonsense. A small sheet of one-way glass mounted in a hole in the wall will prevent the camera from being obtrusive and making the suspects shy. As for the expense... how much did the MoJ pay out for false convictions in the last decade? It can't be more than that.

Public distrust in police and prosecutors has grown in recent years after a series of high profile cases in which investigators seemingly forced innocent individuals to make detailed confessions for crimes in which they played no role.

Not "seemingly". There is compelling evidence that police and prosecutors conspired to force confessions, fabricate evidence, tortured people they're meant to be protecting and acted like thugs working for their own benefit, not the benefit of the people they're meant to serve. Abuse of power is a terrible thing and should carry a sentence of death by firing squad, like all traitors who betray their country.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Everybody knows what is happening at police stations and they still play this "game" of no, it is the costs, or criminals are too shy to confess in front of a camera ... Have you noticed that so many people in Japan act like they do not know what is happening, like they are stupid or something? This is a social value!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Just watch that 99 percent conviction rate plummet if this happens! I'd imagine there will be an exodus of many cops too, as they will no longer be able to work knowing their forced-confession tactics will cut it.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

and is expensive

ahahahaha. they are really desperate to protect their ways.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This would be a very good thing. Welcome to the 21st Century National Police Agency.

Not even 21st Century. We're talking about a standard practice in police accountability used since the late 20th Century.

I'm starting to suspect that there's more to the low crime rate in Japan than just a "well-behaved, polite" society. I think the locals are perfectly aware of how easily their lives can be railroaded into the dumpster by a legal system that is too self-serving and pious to self-correct and pursue more civil avenues for maintaining public order. Knowing that the police, in an effort to look like they're solving crimes despite immature skills and technique, that average citizen is cautious almost unto parody, in an effort to appear beyond reproach in the event the police come knocking.

In other words, fear motivates the public to behave. That's not a good foundation for any modern society.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Welcome to the 21st Century National Police Agency

not many countries record interrogations and not even 1/3 of states in America do this, so it's a global issue not just a "backwards" japan issue.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The crux of the problem clearly mentioned in the 6 paragraph. The Justice system prizes confessions as their top priority which is normally gathered under some form of duress. Until the fundamental shift from conviction by confession is made to conviction by evidence made, videos do little but make sure people get less hurt.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

not many countries record interrogations and not even 1/3 of states in America do this, so it's a global issue not just a "backwards" japan issue.

In America, defense attourneys are allowed to be present, unlike Japan. Furthermore, should the person being interrogated demand it, the interrogation will stop upon an attourney's presence being requested, and will only continue once that attourney is present.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One can be all polite, rational, painless about interrogations and let crooks go free. I would rather that everyone, including innocents bare some of the pain of maintaining a crime free society. Personally I trust the police not to use excessive force, and myself not to confess even in the face of psychological duress (which I would welcome) if innocent.

-16 ( +2 / -16 )

Expensive meaning private lawsuits against police after threats and coercion are publicly recorded , I would bet it would still happen even though they know they are been recorded because generally police force are not the brightest folk out there.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Personally I trust the police not to use excessive force, and myself not to confess even in the face of psychological duress (which I would welcome) if innocent.

Speaking from personal experience, your trust in the police not to use excessive force or duress is misplaced and your confidence in being able to withstand it when being interrogated, equally so.

I am a firm believer in the goodness of most members of the police force. But, I am also keenly aware of how brow-beating over extremely long periods of time is used to 'help' people confess to crimes, even those they did not commit. Unless you have been in that room, it is hard for you to know how much you can withstand. They have more experience at it than you do.

If the case for the police is solid, it should be able to stand up to being recorded. If not, then the case is without merit.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The entire interrogation needs to be recorded no breaks no camera off then back on, the trouble is as some one early mentioned is the intimidation and coercion will be done prior to the interview so the police will only record the suspect after being brow beaten and intimidated into submission.

The only way to over come this is to record the suspect the entire time they are in custody for their own protection.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What happened to the audio recordings? Did they stop doing them or was it a "trial" phase?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Video recording is a critical first step towards ending the confession inquisition procedure. It will make clear that confession documents presented to arrested persons are prepared by the police - and that getting the subject to agree to the document without any revision entails coercion most of the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would rather that everyone, including innocents bare some of the pain of maintaining a crime free society

.

Until that person is you.

Personally I trust the police not to use excessive force, and myself not to confess even in the face of psychological duress (which I would welcome) if innocent.

Until day 21 of non-stop questioning.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Wake me up when it becomes mandatory in another hundred years. IF this kind of thing is passed, I guarantee that at first it will be 'voluntary' and no one will do it.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Slumdog and Okinawamike I am very sorry if either of you were forced to confess to something you did not do, or questioned for 21 days when you were innocent, but in any event, you speak only from your own experiences.

It is possible to hear the experience of others, here for instance (assuming that this recording is real). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSW5VQr6Rm0 I don't like it at all, but I like crime even less, and living in the safety of Japan even more. It appears that there are really bad things going on in some interrogation rooms, but hardly any drugs, guns or fear on the streets.

Western style interrogations are Western style, not "21st century." Alas, with folks clamouring for more Westernization, I guess the Japanese may well end up with lawyers at the interrogation table, and "21st century" muggings and drugs.

Or will we be able to have both polite, legalistic, rational, lawyer-present interrogations and the freedoms that we enjoy due to the lack of crime?

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

"I don't like it at all, but I like crime even less, and living in the safety of Japan even more."

How would that change with the interrogations being taped? If anything, since you yourself admit some really bad things seem to go on in interrogation rooms, they might actually be forced to get the real criminal and not force innocent people to confess, leaving the criminal on the streets you so love. It would be REDUCING crime, not increasing it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Get ready for conviction numbers to take a nosedive.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Dear SmithinJapan

If you are right, if the Japanese police can convict and deter crime at similar rates to the present without the use of things that they do not want to video tape then I am all for it.

But why do you think that Tony Alderman thinks that conviction numbers will take a nosedive? Do you think that the convictions that are reduced are only those that are of innocents. My estimation is that for every innocent person that confesses to a crime that there are a great many more of those that are guilty that confess, and a not-insignificant proportion of these may not be convictable using evidence and reasonable doubt alone.

Should one convict one innocent man to save many others? This was philosophy question at university. The answer pushed was "no" since if one did it would undermine belief in the law, in fairness, in ideals. But what if people do not believe in these things anyway? What if what is important is the bottom line: how much violence and coercion is there in society? Is there more violence in Japanese society?

I repeat, I would rather nice, fair, calm, polite interrogations but the world is more important than my ideals.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

rickyvee said: "many countries record interrogations and not even 1/3 of states in America do this, so it's a global issue not just a "backwards" japan issue."

Japan lacks the twin guarantees for speedy trial and habeus corpus appeals which protect arrested persons in the U.S. from being held for long periods before being charged with a crime. What is "backwards" about Japanese police procedure and the criminal justice system is that any arrested person can still be legally held for up to 23 days without being formally charged. Legal detention for 23 days gives the police far too much leverage in pressuring arrested persons to "confess" to something in order to gain their release from confinement. TIMTAK might actually believe that everyone accepting this kind of restriction on personal liberty directly produces the safety which Japan society enjoys. I simply don't believe that what makes Japan a safe place is the overhanging threat of being held in extended detention by the police without access to appeal or rights to legal counsel.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This article from a few years ago should convey the importance of transparency. For a gadget loving culture, it seems a bit insincere when trying to costs are the issue. Especially for this would pertain to non-citizens. <http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2004/07/20/issues/bill-of-rights/#.U2MP51ewX-o >

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are faults in both the U.S. and Japanese system, but the Japanese have beat the U.S. when it comes to prisoner rehabilitation hands down. Their methods are brutal, but its brutality by the state, whereas in the U.S. its done by the prisoner gangs.

The U.S. system of evidence, prosecution, resonable doubt etc is much more humane in my opinion. They can only hold you for so many hours without evidence. The jury system, distrcit attorney and plea bargain, strong defense lawyers etc. make for a much better system.

I have been told in Japan, they need 100% evidence to convict; its why the police settle things at their level most of the time as its a pain to get 100% evidence. The 28 days for holding is to get the evidence. Where foul play might occur is a forced confession, thus providing the evidence.Tthe taped recordings might prevent this.

Overall, I think the Japan system is more fair and less traumatic to the offender.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Western style interrogations are Western style, not "21st century."

Why do you assume I am making a comparison with the 'West'. I am merely stating the fact that allowing interrogations will allow the police to act in a more modern and morally efficient way.

I guess the Japanese may well end up with lawyers at the interrogation table, and "21st century" muggings and drugs.

I disagree with your assumption that it is impossible to protect people's legal rights and still avoid an increase in 'muggings and drugs'.

If the police have real evidence, it can stand up to being recorded.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Timtak: Toni said what he said because it's a well-known fact confessions are mostly forced, and in many cases innocents go to prison so Japan can keep its "99% confession" rate. If the law is forced to SHOW interrogations, they cannot force people illegally into confessing. If this were in place long ago, as it should hav been, maybe the boxer who spent most of his life being abused in prison thanks to a false confession wouldnt have been wrongly imprisoned. Toni was, as such, pointing out that the police will actually have to do their jobs and can no longer rely on torture ito get their confessions if cameras are present.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

99% conviction rate! that is an impossible number! police don't want recordings because it will expose them as the baboons they are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, yeah, yeah! Remember they also introduced audio recording of interrogations not so long ago? And then, they going the audio files were edited before they got to court. Japan needs a separate entity to monitor the police. The police police!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Timtak,

There is no rational explanation for a 99% conviction rate in any society that isn't doing something below board. None whatsoever. Furthermore, the Japanese people are not some special breed of human being that is more prone to confession than any other nationality. They're people, just like you and me, with very nearly identical appreciation for freedom and all that it entails. The confession rate has everything to do with harsh interrogation techniques coupled with trickery and flat-out lying in order to get crimes solved quickly and tidily for few other reasons that administrative expedience. So the "Western versus Eastern Sensibilities" argument just doesn't wash here.

Innocence until guilt is proven, placing the burden of proof on the accuser, requiring substantive and compelling evidence for or against the accused: These are the hallmarks of a safe and civil society.

I would rather that everyone, including innocents bare some of the pain of maintaining a crime free society.

Bear some of the pain, i.e., "You've got to break a few eggs to make an omelet?" Wow. I would rather innocents not bear that pain, thank you very much. Particularly when there is no rational justification for not having common-sense safeguards in place that could well mitigate the false imprisonment of innocents.

That you would so casually place my desire to be treated fairly well behind your desire to live in a crime-free society no matter the cost to innocents completely and utterly offends the senses. Ben Franklin was absolutely on the mark when he stated that anyone who would sacrifice liberty in favor of security deserves neither. I can think of few positions I've encountered in my four decades on this planet that fit this criteria as well as yours does. I implore you to stay far, far away from anything even remotely related to the formulation of public policy.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the more transparency the better when it comes to the police, I don't trust them all and think many of them abuse their powers. If they claim they don't abuse their powers, then they should allow the filming. Coming from experience, as a foreigner, that many foreigners do not receive due justice whether your a victim or criminal. Many basic civil rights are taken away from you, and if you are not very suavy, they will take it away without you knowing. It is the institution to point out to you what your rights are from the onset, but many cops do not state this and quite frankly, not helpful at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if the next step is to allow the suspect a lawyer to sit in on all interrogations. That would really put a crimp in their 99% conviction rate if the suspect was defended by a lawyer. It would force the prosecution to do some investigation for something called 'evidence.'

The man in today's news who was convicted of killing his 5-month-old son because a judge thought it odd he didn't call the police was released because medical evidence didn't match up with the crime. The man mentioned in this article who was framed by the police, the prosecutors, and two of the three judges.

Defense lawyers and taping interrogations might've prevented these police-generated injustices.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Defense lawyers and taping interrogations might've prevented these police-generated injustices.

Uh, what "injustices"? The idea to a "fair' and "impartial" trial occurs to both the prosecuting and prosecuted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan lacks the twin guarantees for speedy trial and habeus corpus appeals which protect arrested persons in the U.S. from being held for long periods before being charged with a crime. What is "backwards" about Japanese police procedure and the criminal justice system is that any arrested person can still be legally held for up to 23 days without being formally charged.

you're going a bit off track from my argument, which is that japan is not the only industrialized country that doesn't videotape interrogations. the commentator seemed to imply that.

and you also seem to imply that japan is the only country that lacks "twin guarantees" when people are arrested. most countries limit your rights when you have been arrested for a crime, will interrogate you without a lawyer and confine you for a period of time. this is common procedure. and your assumption that habeus corpus prevents police wrongdoing is silly. look at all the people freed by the innocence project.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

timtakMay. 02, 2014 - 10:28AM JST Personally I trust the police not to use excessive force, and myself not to confess even in the face of psychological duress (which I would welcome) if innocent.

I don't know anything about you, but that manner of speaking is typical of people who have no idea what psychological duress will do to them. You might benefit from a seminar or crash course if ever given the opportunity. Most people are surprised by how soon they'd trade their grandmother to be allowed to sleep continuously for 30 minutes. A day is a pretty strong time for an average individual exposed to serious sleep and sensory deprivation, which they probably don't do here, but three weeks is a long time, even if left alone.

On a side note, it's evident from the comments on news reports on Japanese police interrogations that people believe police are likely to go to any length to get a confession, which in turn makes these reports likely work the police's favour.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In Japan, if you are arrested for a crime your are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. In today's news there is that father that spent five years in jail just because he couldn't say how the baby got injured and because he waited to call the ambulance. I'm not dating if he did it or not, but there was no evidence to support his conviction. Just evidence that didn't support his innocence. Video taping interrogations may or may not help cos we all know that many confessions in Japan are forced after hours or days of interrogation.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

timtak:

First you said:

Personally I trust the police not to use excessive force, and myself not to confess even in the face of psychological duress (which I would welcome) if innocent

but later you give a link to a recording of a police interrogation:

It is possible to hear the experience of others, here for instance (assuming that this recording is real). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSW5VQr6Rm0 I don't like it at all

How can you trust the police not to use excessive force when there are numerous examples of them doing just that, including one provided by yourself?

The police claim that "recording discourages suspects from confessing", but provide no evidence for this statement. That's because they don't have any evidence, but they know all too well that their current behaviour will have to stop if their interviews are recorded as it is totally unacceptable. Forcing a confession out of someone, anyone, "solves" the crime and is great if you are too lazy to do your job properly. I would suggest that a professional police force should be more concerned about finding the true culprit, rather than convicting the first person they happen across.

If you're worried about drugs and guns it is well known that the Yakuza are mainly responsible for those things. The police know who they are and where they live but prefer to do nothing about them. That, coupled with the current methods of policing, interrogation and "justice" inspires nothing but contempt in me. This archaic system cannot claim credit for the low crime levels in Japan. Now it's time for change.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has pushed for all police interrogations to be routinely recorded,

A step in the right direction!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

'TRUSTING' the police - would be a bad slip down a greasy pole. Dont go there. Not because one policeman or another is more or less likely to behave in a moral way - but because creating good, fair laws, with an ongoing attempt to enforce them - is the only safe way to build a sound structure for any society. Without that attempt or determination to maintain good laws - those who choose to make their own best uses of circumstances, or those who attempt to take control without justification, and for wrong purposes, may gain strength & opportunity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was deleted? Was it the use of the word vile that did it? Or did the word Baboon offend? I need to know and know I understand your sensitivity it's not easy making a comment is perhaps too much.

Moderator: Calling the police baboons lowers the level of discussion and reflects badly on yourself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Timtak took an unpopular position which nevertheless deserves some thought. In essence, most people here seem to stop the simulation after speculating about a fall in conviction rates, or are implicitly willing to accept any price as long as Enzai is reduced.

Saying innocents shouldn't be hurt is easy, but are the innocents only to be protected from the police? If the price of reducing Enzai is a rise in crime to say the American level, is that a good trade for the average Japanese? Such issues do deserve debate rather than airy statements insisting it can't happen or blasting people for daring to bring it up.

And it might just be possible the Japanese do quietly recognize that a tradeoff exists, and that's why they are relatively passive on this issue. We know they can be a significant political force for the right cause - witnessth their opposition to collective defense or nuke power.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

timtakMAY. 02, 2014 - 10:28AM JST One can be all polite, rational, painless about interrogations and let crooks go free. I would rather that everyone, including innocents bare some of the pain of maintaining a crime free society. Personally I trust the police not to use excessive force, and myself not to confess even in the face of psychological duress (which I would welcome) if innocent.

Have you ever been faced with Japanese police interrogators? I think you are confusing them with the fair and reasonable face of the police force you see in the kobans - they are not like that. Out of the public eye Japan's police can be brutal and unforgiving. If you have been arrested and they believe you did 'it', they will force you to admit that. That's the way it works here - and that's why it must change.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If anyone has the interest (and time), this 2001 paper is revealing:

Why Is the Japanese Conviction Rate So High?

http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=rasmusen

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kazuaki,

Statements declaring that it is perfectly acceptable -- scratch that -- preferable that innocent people be charged, convicted, and sentenced for a crime that they didn't commit possess no hidden, philosophical epiphany waiting to be discovered via debate. To maintain even hypothetically that presumed innocence is but an inconvenience on the path the Greater Good suggests a painful unfamiliarity with what actually constitutes good in any sense of the word.

Lending even a moment's consideration to Timtak's position results in a collision with the some logical fallacy no matter how desperately one seeks a deeper truth, and that is this: For every innocent citizen wrongly accused and sentenced to prison for a crime, there exists the actual culprit who still walks free, free to commit the same crime again, free to do worse. So, how does this make society safer exactly?

And it might just be possible the Japanese do quietly recognize that a tradeoff exists, and that's why they are relatively passive on this issue.

Highly unlikely, I'm afraid, given demonstrated Japanese behavior across the broader spectrum of societal interaction. As opposed to passively accepting that figures in society charged with maintaining public order will necessarily on occasion throw innocent people under the legal bus in order to maintain an illusion of public safety, the far more plausible explanation for perceived passivity lies in the Japanese culturally engrained tendency to place a great deal of trust -- oftentimes undeservedly -- in those social institutions charged with creating, maintaining, and furthering public order, i.e., public schools, fire departments, and yes, police departments. It's why there is such outrage when a teacher, fire fighter, or police officer drives under the influence or does something else decidedly unbecoming of a person in such a highly respected social position.

Japanese passivity on this issue occurs for the same reason it occurs in the face a wide range of socially unacceptable behavior: There is the expectation -- in most cases reasonably so -- that the offending party will self-reflect and self-correct, or barring that, his or her peers will set him straight via example or intervention.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lending even a moment's consideration to Timtak's position results in a collision with the some logical fallacy no matter how desperately one seeks a deeper truth, and that is this: For every innocent citizen wrongly accused and sentenced to prison for a crime, there exists the actual culprit who still walks free, free to commit the same crime again, free to do worse. So, how does this make society safer exactly?

True, but you are stopping the sim too early again, and have not considered the other part - every time you can't convict a real criminal for any reason, the same result happens - the culprit walks free, free to commit the same crime again, blah blah.

So, the more appropriate question in this context would be how many criminals are allowed to walk free.

As we all know, the Japanese conviction rate is 99%. Suppose that Japanese police grab 5 innocent people and 95 actual criminals. With the conviction rate, just over 94 actual criminals will go to jail. Unfortunately, all 5 innocent people probably are doomed in this example, but at least probably only one criminal would be left completely free.

Now, let's go to Country B, where the conviction rate is only 50%. That country's police also grab 5 innocent people and 95 actual criminals. That means about 50 people would be acquitted. Now, we shall suppose that due to the superior legal protections offered in Country B, no innocents go to jail ... ever. Unfortunately, even with the innocent people taking 5 slots, that still leaves 45 criminals who walked free - FORTY-FIVE times the number of dangerous elements left to walk around in society to do harm.

This is, of course a simplistic example meant to demonstrate a point. Nevertheless, it should show that there is more complexity than self-righteous Westerners think.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki May. 03, 2014 - 02:39AM JST As we all know, the Japanese conviction rate is 99%. Suppose that Japanese police grab 5 innocent people and 95 actual criminals. With the conviction rate, just over 94 actual criminals will go to jail. Unfortunately, all 5 innocent people probably are doomed in this example, but at least probably only one criminal would be left completely free.

What’s interesting is Japan’s high conviction rate is due to a completely different reason. Japan has been wracked by an underfunded judicial system for years. It causes the stretched-too-thin prosecutors to drop the vast majority of their cases. The ones they do decided to keep, of course, are the ones where there is almost no question of guilt or innocence. So, the only people who end up before a judge are people likely wouldn’t have any trouble in accurately assessing whether or not they should be convicted. Japan’s high conviction rate results in a lot of guilty people going free, and not many innocent people going to jail.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@sfjp330 I've heard of that story before ... in fact that's the argument made by igloobuyer's link (which I've previously read). However, in essence, that would be an argument that Japan's legal system is highly selective and justifies the 99% conviction rate in a positive way. Critics can't have it both ways, methinks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

All police interrogations should be filmed, thus reducing police brutality in forced confession, how many people have been have been accused and convicted under this system? The real perp goes free! How many people are in the slammer here are simply not guilt?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

sfjp330May. 03, 2014 - 04:18AM JST What’s interesting is Japan’s high conviction rate is due to a completely different reason. Japan has been wracked by an underfunded judicial system for years. It causes the stretched-too-thin prosecutors to drop the vast majority of their cases. The ones they do decided to keep, of course, are the ones where there is almost no question of guilt or innocence. So, the only people who end up before a judge are people likely wouldn’t have any trouble in accurately assessing whether or not they should be convicted. Japan’s high conviction rate results in a lot of guilty people going free, and not many innocent people going to jail.

I see this argument a lot and it simply isn't true.

68% of those detained are prosecuted (this does not include the 6% transferred to family courts, so the real number is closer to 74% across all courts). To claim that the police, before the decide to detain a suspect for questioning, have the right person in 74% of cases is simply ridiculous. (Source: http://www.npa.go.jp/english/ryuchi/Detention_house-Eng_080416.pdf)

The Japanese system is not highly selective, and the "vast majority" of cases are not dropped. Out of 136 110 cases, only 60 (0%) were dropped, 25,640 (19%) were suspended (which means they can be resumed at any time), and ONLY 3940 (3%) were dropped because of lack of evidence, and 2020 (1%) were dropped for other reasons.

The problem here should be apparent to even the most biased eye, that the quality of "evidence" accepted by the courts is extremely poor, mostly circumstantial (e.g. you own some nails so you must be responsible for the bombs that had nails in them), and they rely heavily on the "guilty until proven innocent" system... and it is pretty darned difficult to prove you didn't do anything when you're in police custody 24/7 until your trial date. Not to mention of course the well-documented tendency of Japanese prosecutors to "manufacture" evidence when they don't actually have any. The cherry on the top of this mess is the reliance on forced confessions (which they get in almost all cases).

The cameras won't solve all of these problems, but they're kicking up such a fuss over a relatively minor and simple reform that it is clear the Japanese police and prosecutors have something to hide.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Frungy, nice data (I'm looking at your PDF) but 1) You mis-spelled the link - this is a working one: http://www.npa.go.jp/english/ryuchi/Detention_house-Eng_080416.pdf. 2) I'm not sure whether you should "discount" the suspended prosecutions (kisou yuyo) - surely, at least some of them are "suspended" to save everyone's pride when a prosecutor knows he might not have enough to convict even if he presses on but doesn't quite want to admit his failure. 3) If you want to say 74% of people getting arrested being sent to court (with 99% conviction, so about 73% will get some sort of sentence) is unacceptable, then you need to propose a percentage that's more to your taste.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiMay. 03, 2014 - 12:19PM JST @Frungy, nice data (I'm looking at your PDF) but 1) You mis-spelled the link - this is a working one: http://www.npa.go.jp/english/ryuchi/Detentionhouse-Eng080416.pdf.

I cut and pasted it, there is no error. Your link also produces the same error. I'm not sure what the problem is.

2) I'm not sure whether you should "discount" the suspended prosecutions (kisou yuyo) - surely, at least some of them are "suspended" to save everyone's pride when a prosecutor knows he might not have enough to convict even if he presses on but doesn't quite want to admit his failure.

I did discount the suspended prosecutions, they're not in the 74%, however what I was pointing out was that the potential exists with a suspended prosecution to re-open the investigation and detain the suspect for another 28 days at some later date. The suspect knows this and it can be very mentally wearing having this sword of Damocles hanging over your head.

3) If you want to say 74% of people getting arrested being sent to court (with 99% conviction, so about 73% will get some sort of sentence) is unacceptable, then you need to propose a percentage that's more to your taste.

I think you're putting words into my mouth, and I don't appreciate that very much. I don't need to propose a percentage at all. It was claimed that "prosecutors ... drop the vast majority of their cases". I think that I have conclusively shown that the "vast majority" of cases are actually prosecuted, and that a tiny minority of cases are dropped. Depending on how you define "dropped" between 0% and 26% - the MOJ's definition in the official document I cited would be 0% dropped, but I acknowledge that it probably wasn't what was intended by the poster, and the they were probably thinking of a broader definition. Still, 26% isn't even a simple majority, and certainly not a "vast majority".

I was clearly up a widely held misapprehension about the number of cases dropped. I do not need to propose a percentage, however it does seem suspicious that 73% of people detained for questioning are subsequently found guilty. It seems like more than 0~1% (the percentage of cases dropped or in the "other" category) of suspects should, on questioning, be able to provide an alibi or otherwise prove that they weren't there. On the contrary it seems that the vast majority of released individuals are release because the investigation is "suspended" (19%), which means that they're in limbo, and that the police can continue investigating and pick them up again later.

Doesn't it seem suspicious to you that, in this age of gps cellphones, social networking where many people log where they've been, and cameras in every combini, that only 0~1% of suspects were able to prove they were somewhere else?

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What happen to Hiromasa Ezoe the founder of Recruit sent shivers throughout the nation 14 years ago. He was tortured into confessing to a fabricated story. He was forced to stand on one leg for extended amount of time, forced to kneel and bow until his forehead to undo the floor. Only now are they possible adding video? After 13 years of trial he is still seeking justice! Hard to accept the court system in Japan! Praying for change to protect the innocent.

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I cut and pasted it, there is no error. Your link also produces the same error. I'm not sure what the problem is.

I noticed and am sorry, but JapanToday doesn't allow post-editing. The problem seems to be JT's processing system translating the underscores as a command to italicize.

I did discount the suspended prosecutions, they're not in the 74%, however what I was pointing out was that the potential exists with a suspended prosecution to re-open the investigation and detain the suspect for another 28 days at some later date. The suspect knows this and it can be very mentally wearing having this sword of Damocles hanging over your head.

AFAIK, the prosecutor could have ruled kengi fujyubun and still if there is some cause (he finds more evidence or the guy is suspected of doing something else) he can be re-arrested with the same cycle, so is this a particularly large sword? I have yet to hear of a nation where after the police / prosecutor (as opposed to a judge / jury) releases someone, they are not allowed to grab him again for the same offense. The only way the guy can relax is if the police & prosecutor find another person to prosecute for the offense.

I think you're putting words into my mouth, and I don't appreciate that very much. I don't need to propose a percentage at all. It was claimed that "prosecutors ... drop the vast majority of their cases". I think that I have conclusively shown that the "vast majority" of cases are actually prosecuted, and that a tiny minority of cases are dropped. Depending on how you define "dropped" between 0% and 26% - the MOJ's definition in the official document I cited would be 0% dropped, but I acknowledge that it probably wasn't what was intended by the poster, and the they were probably thinking of a broader definition. Still, 26% isn't even a simple majority, and certainly not a "vast majority".

Ah, I see. I don't disagree that you have done that. My beef was with your: "have the right person in 74% of cases is simply ridiculous" part.

Though to be fair, it does say on the succeeding page that the Prosecution office handles 450,000 suspects (of which only 150,000 are arrested), and only 180,000 (40%) are prosecuted (of which about 90,000 are from the arrested pool). So a vast majority are indeed dropped.

Doesn't it seem suspicious to you that, in this age of gps cellphones, social networking where many people log where they've been, and cameras in every combini, that only 0~1% of suspects were able to prove they were somewhere else?

For one thing, that publication was made in 2008 and the data is 2006 data (not quite so popular back then, these things). In any case, while a pessimist would find a cause for concern, an optimist can find an interpretation in what happens before arrest. It is at least possible that the ones with credible and/or easily verifiable alibis (as well as those where the police case on them are so weak it would be rejected by the prosecutor) are weeded out in the 職務質問 (questioning on the streets) or 任意同行 (voluntary accompaniment) phases. By the time people get arrested, the police know the prosecutor would take it, and the prosecutor sets his standards on the basis of a high probability of the judge accepting it. For better or worse.

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Kazuaki ShimazakiMay. 03, 2014 - 02:10PM JST I noticed and am sorry, but JapanToday doesn't allow post-editing. The problem seems to be JT's processing system translating the underscores as a command to italicize.

It is a pleasure to deal with someone who can acknowledge a simple error. I apologise if my tone was harsh, but I'm so used to people being unreasonable that I, incorrectly, assumed that you would take a similar tack. I apologise.

AFAIK, the prosecutor could have ruled kengi fujyubun and still if there is some cause (he finds more evidence or the guy is suspected of doing something else) he can be re-arrested with the same cycle, so is this a particularly large sword? I have yet to hear of a nation where after the police / prosecutor (as opposed to a judge / jury) releases someone, they are not allowed to grab him again for the same offense. The only way the guy can relax is if the police & prosecutor find another person to prosecute for the offense.

Well actually if the police pick you up, then release you and then pick you up again you can normally file harassment charges and demand that the police show cause. In Japan this isn't the case since they can keep you locked up for a long time without access to a judge, and the judges, prosecutors and police share such a cosy relationship that I've never head of a judge upholding a harassment suit against the police.

Ah, I see. I don't disagree that you have done that. My beef was with your: "have the right person in 74% of cases is simply ridiculous" part.

Well doesn't it strike you as suspicious?

Though to be fair, it does say on the succeeding page that the Prosecution office handles 450,000 suspects (of which only 150,000 are arrested), and only 180,000 (40%) are prosecuted (of which about 90,000 are from the arrested pool). So a vast majority are indeed dropped.

The term "suspect" in this case is misleading. I'd rather say, "people they questioned in connection with the crime". At the time of a crime anyone and everyone is a suspect. Their wife, their uncle, their neighbour, etc. The term "suspect" implies that they had some grounds for suspecting the person, but in reality those 490 000 "suspects" were actually just the number of people they talked to after the crime. If you look at those numbers it looks like they questioned, on average, just 3 people per case before they found the person they charged.

Doesn't it seem suspicious to you that, in this age of gps cellphones, social networking where many people log where they've been, and cameras in every combini, that only 0~1% of suspects were able to prove they were somewhere else?

For one thing, that publication was made in 2008 and the data is 2006 data (not quite so popular back then, these things). In any case, while a pessimist would find a cause for concern, an optimist can find an interpretation in what happens before arrest. It is at least possible that the ones with credible and/or easily verifiable alibis (as well as those where the police case on them are so weak it would be rejected by the prosecutor) are weeded out in the 職務質問 (questioning on the streets) or 任意同行 (voluntary accompaniment) phases. By the time people get arrested, the police know the prosecutor would take it, and the prosecutor sets his standards on the basis of a high probability of the judge accepting it. For better or worse.

I'm sorry, but this excuse just doesn't fly when you add the fact that 54% of the suspects had to be detained for more than 10 days before they could make a decision to prosecute. This means that in 54% of cases there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute after 10 days of interviewing and investigating the crime scene. And this isn't 10 days after the crime, so it isn't lab work hold-ups or anything like that. When they detained these people there wasn't enough evidence to successfully prosecute. This blows your theory out of the water.

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In Japan this isn't the case since they can keep you locked up for a long time without access to a judge, and the judges, prosecutors and police share such a cosy relationship that I've never head of a judge upholding a harassment suit against the police.

I would think judges all around the world tend to be cozier with the prosecution (and police) than the suspects, and this is all relative. In any case, I buy this but the corollary is that it indeed doesn't really matter if the prosecutor releases you on "kiso yuyo" or "kengi fujyubun" - he can arrange re-arrest if he feels the need and chances are the judge will let him get away with it.

Well doesn't it strike you as suspicious?

Because that's what's supposed to happen, really. In a sense, Japan's statistics are what should happen in a legal system. Prosecutors know what the standards for "reasonable doubt" are and don't even bother forwarding cases that don't meet them. Police do the same and don't arrest people that don't meet the mark. Thus, the minimum amount of people are "inconvenienced" by being trapped in the legal system.

A low conviction rate or low prosecution rate actually is unhealthy in principle. It implies that the standards of judges and prosecutors are highly variable, so even experienced workers in the system (which police and prosecutors should be) cannot accurately predict what would happen. "Unpredictability" is not a virtue in a legal system.

The only problem is that ... the statistics are too good compared to other countries, and since it is reasonable to think that Japanese police & prosecutors are not ten times better than Elsewhere, a reasonable suspicion arises that standards are lowered. (Anecdotal cases that come out in the news or in reports to Amnesty or other human rights group occasionally are not really good evidence since cases exist in other countries.)

So, in this case, what is needed to make a case is a comparison to other countries's percentages - if other countries are significantly lower, then there is reasonable cause for suspicion, thus my point 3 in my first reply.

The term "suspect" in this case is misleading.

I would think the original Japanese would have been 被疑者. I might note, however, that these are the 被疑者 of the Prosecutorial Service, which is presumably narrower than the 被疑者 of the police that's the main force in investigations.

I'm sorry, but this excuse just doesn't fly when you add the fact that 54% of the suspects had to be detained for more than 10 days before they could make a decision to prosecute. This means that in 54% of cases there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute after 10 days of interviewing and investigating the crime scene. And this isn't 10 days after the crime, so it isn't lab work hold-ups or anything like that. When they detained these people there wasn't enough evidence to successfully prosecute. This blows your theory out of the water.

I don't see how this disproves my argument that the ones with easy alibis may well have been eliminated from the arrested list.

Anyway, you use the time that's available to you. The critics call confessions the "King of Evidence" in Japan, but I have yet to hear of a single nation in an adversarial system that does not prize the confession or another means of getting the suspect to admit his guilt (the US practice of plea bargaining is really a variant of this - in this case, instead of using more days to wear you down, the threat of a high perhaps even trumped up charge is used to pressure the suspect to agree to plead guilty).

So, you are the Japanese prosecutor. At ten days, you've already released 13% of those you received because you know they are wrong or know your case is paper-thin (though like hell you'd admit that so you'd write "kiso yuyo" on the page instead of "kengi fujuubun" and no way in h*ll will you write "kengi nashi").

Another 28% presumably already confessed for one reason or another. 5% are out of your hands now and you are left with 54%. You don't have these people's confessions yet. You may or may not have enough evidence to prosecute the guy without it, but effectively you have ten more days. You won't use them?

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For some reason JT won't accept my longer reply, so here's the abstract. I apologise for being so short, its not an insult, it is simply that I don't want to retype the whole thing again.

You maintained that the prosecutor wouldn't accept any case that didn't meet high standards, presumably in terms of evidence. Just picture the scene, you're interrogating the suspect. You lay out the evidence and say, "Look, I've got enough to convict. Make life easy for yourself and confess. You'll get a lighter sentence and I get to go home and sleep.". Why would any logical and sane person refuse? (This is the so-called "reasonable man" test, and standard in testing legal logic).

The answer is that no sane man would refuse. Yet 54% of suspects refuse not once, but for more than 10 days. This shows that the prosecutors have NO evidence. But if they have no evidence then what can another 13 days do that they haven't done in 10 days? These individuals are obviously psychologically strong if 10 days of questioning haven't had the desire effect. What more could legally be done in those 13 days?

The answer is, "Nothing legal". You could instruct the police to take them into a supply closet and "convince" the suspect with broom handles, you could "medicate" their food, you could just take their personal seal and stamp the document, you could deny them sleep and other human rights until their will breaks (72 hours would be enough).

Of course all these things would be obvious on a video recording. It would take a lot of effort to digitally create a video of the suspect signing, or erase bruises, or voice-over slurred speech from medication or severe sleep deprivation.

Simply put, there are no good reasons to exclude video taping of confessions, and many, many bad ones. The fact that the police and prosecutors are resisting this so strongly makes them look guilty as sin.

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What? The Japanese police having idiots with bad days too?

Nooooooo! Heaven forbid!

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The police should have to do this already! It's not expensive ! The should be there to protect the innocent and also make sure they have the guilty person.

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If the price of reducing Enzai is a rise in crime to say the American level, is that a good trade for the average Japanese?

Lets ask that average Japanese after he has been arrested and convicted for a crime he didnt commit, lost his job, lost is family, never seen his kids again, shunned by family and society from this point onwards, all because someone else hacked into his computer to send threatening mails. Or accused him of groping them to get money. Or was guilty o being foreign in the wrong place at the wrong time.Or...

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Despite the legal questions related to police deception, false evidence ploy during interrogation are generally legal, and these ploys increase the likelihood of false confession. If the suspect recants the confession and then goes to trial, how do Japan's legal system evaluate confession evidence? In Japan, legal system rely on confession evidence more than other forms of evidence. The proposal of filming interrogation is important because it will change in how interview and interrogation will be conducted in the country. If the police interrogations are recorded, the deception, once hidden within the secretive interrogation process, now becomes clearer, and more likely to be viewed by judges and other observers, and more likely to be studied in detail and evaluate interrogation strategies and confession evidence.

In some cases, Defense Attorneys should attempt to introduce an expert witness in the area of false confessions. Rather than focusing primarily on the defendant, the Defense Attorney should focus on how interrogation strategies and false evidence ploys to influence false confessions. If the interrogation includes police deception, defense attorneys should interview the police officers who interrogated the defendant.

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