Basic information about the criminal procedure in Japan

Dear visitors to Japan!

This brochure will give you the minimum knowledge you should have about the criminal procedure in Japan when visiting.

1. Risks when being arrested

Once arrested by the police in Japan, and provided that the prosecutor requests to extend your detention within 72 hours of your arrest and that the judge allows this request, you can be detained initially for 10 days, with the high possibility that your detention will be extended for another 10 days, for a maximum total of 23 days in detention. So, you have to be aware that you may be kept in detention for a little over three weeks once you are arrested.
Furthermore, in Japan, it is very common that detainees are kept in a police cell even after the judge’s decision to detain you, a practice which is quite uncommon in the rest of the world. This system, called the "substitute prison", is internationally criticised and was subject to an examination in the process of the Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June of this year. Through the "substitute prison", the police are able to exercise total control over you 24 hours a day and they will usually perform interrogations from morning until night, occasionally ignoring sleeping hours (which start at 9 p.m.).
In addition, during a possible 23 days of detention, you may be denied contact with everyone besides your lawyer. ("prohibition of contact")
In Japan, you have no right to a phone call. If you have a moblie phone, it will be confiscated during your detention.

2. What to do if you are arrested

Once you are arrested, you will be brought to a police station, where a personal search and a search of your personal belongings will be carried out before you are put into a cell. The police will take away your jewelry, ties and belts etc. during your detention.
If you are arrested, ask the police immediately to call the duty lawyer ("tôban bengoshi"). The local bar association will send you a lawyer with an interpretor on the same day or on the next day at the latest. The first consultation by the duty lawyer is for free. If you meet the lawyer, ask him to contact people you know and who belong to activist groups in Japan.
If you decide to appoint a lawyer for criminal procedures following your arrest, in certain cases, you can make use of the legal aid service in Japan, so that you do not have to pay the costs for appointing a lawyer on your own. For more information about the legal fees, please ask the duty lawyer who will come to the first visit.

Contact list of the duty lawyers:
Sapporo 011-272-1010
Tokyo 03-3580-0082
Osaka 06-6363-0080

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