Confession Time — Japanese Style

The United States government annual report on human rights conditions slammed the Japanese criminal coourt system because it tends to serve the interests of prosecutors rather than those of defendants. “Trial procedures favor the prosecution” said the report citing a case in Toyarna where a man confessed only to discover shortly after that someone else had committed the crime. The US State Department report noted even the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s office acknowledged “investigators sometimes placed too much emphasis on confessions. The law does not require full disclosure by prosecutors, and material the prosecution does not use in court may be suppressed. The legal representatives of some defendants claimed that they did not receive access to relevant material in he police record.”

There were also complaints about language barrier problems since there is a lack of sufficient interpreters. “Several foreign detainees claimed that police urged them to sign statements in Japanese that they could not read and that were not translated adequately.”

Many of the issues raised in the State Department report are also prevelant in the United States as witnessed by the growing number of cases revisited due to DNA evidence.