Documentary on forced confessions screened in Tokyo

By Taro Fujimoto

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) on Monday night screened a short documentary film “Presumed Guilty Creating False Confessions” at its headquarters in Tokyo. The DVD version with English subtitle was also released the same day.

The 45-minute documentary, which the JFBA produced, is about the Shibushi case, in which police and prosecutors forced 12 people, including a local politician, to confess to buying votes prior in an election in Shibushi, Kagoshima Prefecture, in April, 2003. After being held in prisons in a local police station, known as “daiyo kangoku,” the 12 were tried and all acquitted in 2007.

In the symposium after the screening, Yasuhiro Nohira, lawyer for the victims, said “Many people attempted suicide. The long-term detention in substitute prisons within police stations is torture. The justice system in Japan must change.”

Director Hiroo Ikeda said, “The facts the mainstream media didn't cover are that the Shibushi case is not accidental. The Shibusi police had forced confessions before, and a prosecutor called one of the victims during the trial, telling him 'You shouldn't talk much about it,' which was an apparent threat to him.” Ikeda said that no investigation into the case has ever been conducted.

“The chief of Shibushi police might have wanted to perform a valiant service for promotion or both local and prefectural police presumed there must be something suspicious because the general election was coming up at that time,” said Jinpachi Mori, who wrote the screenplay. "Whatever, the police who created such a stupid scenario and the judges who approved the detention cannot be more ridiculous than that.”

The film is scheduled to be screened at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in October, according to JFBA lawyer Shinichiro Koike.

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Nice. I can't say I'll watch it as I'm not a Japanese citizen, but at least its trying to call attention to properly getting information to arrest the RIGHT person instead of just picking the closest suspect and forcing them to lie and say they did something that they didn't.

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Nothing like a bit of a verballing down the cells.

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The mind boggles over how many more forced confessions have been made and how many loonies are still running around because of it.

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Some people would rather have the illusion of safety than the reality; if there is an arrest for every crime problem solved, right? It's a pity the respective Bar associations don't get enough attention; hopefully with changes to the exam and law school system there will be change. But for now we can only hope and applaud the few willing to make a difference, bucking popularity and saying things that some just don't wanna hear

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How many of the 99% conviction rate are really innocent? I hope the "Police" are the ones who are going to make up a part of this number in the future for their forcing confessions...

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HonestDictator Nice. I can't say I'll watch it as I'm not a Japanese citizen

That's exactly why you should watch it, for nothing else, than to become aware of what can happen to you...JN Citizen Or Not, as long as you are in Japan, you too could become one of these helpless victims...

Unless you are in the (U.S.) Military, you have absolutely no human rights here in Japan...

Good luck...

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Like anyone else, crime worries me and I want the bad guys to be in the pen. Western jurisprudence has (well, in the ideal form anyway) always held that it err on the side of doubt and it's a wonderful principle. Japanese justice is a leftover from the medieval era, where the presumption of guilt was the basis for getting the accused to see it that way too.

Nuff said... It's just that; medieval and with a labyrinth of petty rules, judges rewarded for speedy trails, humongous bureauocracy, trivial procedures and minuntiae rules. God help anyone of us for whatever reason becomes ensnared in it.

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I wana watch it

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The Shibusi police had forced confessions before

That deserves some investigative reporting!

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Take note that "Trial by Jury" only began this year in Japan.

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When will that documentary come to Canada?

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The DVD version with English subtitle was also released the same day.

Hmmm. No details on how to get hands on copy... Off to Amazon Japan (and failing that, Google...)

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Nothing on Amazon. And nothing on the JFBA site either.

JT, do your wire service provide any sort of information about how interested parties may get their hands on a copy?

(The JFBA site for "pamphlets, etc.", which includes one DVD, gives a contact number to call: 03-3580-9841)

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Whats amazing about this, is that even after this, J-Cops still don't want to record their "Interrogation" sessions.

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Once J-cop put the recording procedure in their interrogation manuals, they will perhaps mechanically conduct recording. Come to think about it, it’s scary if they start conducting interrogations in the manner Makudonaldo’s clerks would do.

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