© 2020 Diplomat Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Both systems struggle to provide oversight of confessions and plea bargains, respectively, by means of judicial hearings. Judges are obligated to give all aspects of a case equal consideration to keep the scales of justice from tipping in favor of the prosecution. In reality, though, prosecutors and the police prefer the more balanced approach of sparing the innocent while assuring that the guilty are punished. The unprecedented designation threatens to generate frictions with an important U.S. partner in Southeast Asia. The case for greater cooperation in the protection of ASEAN’s migrant workers. This would not be the situation if Japan had a bona fide adversarial system, but the fact of the matter is that the balance of power in Japanese courts is skewed. In the United States a similar danger is present in plea bargaining. Second is the unfortunate tendency to quickly resort to broad cultural generalizations and stereotypes whenever there is a discussion of Japan. Police officers: Number of police officers per 100,000 population. Inmates become ill like other people, but because they are incarcerated they have limited options for treatment, and health conditions often go unattended. Almost all indictments lead to guilty verdicts – Japan’s criminal conviction rate stands at a staggering 99.9 percent. All military forces have a desired force requirement and a desired “critical mass” to aspire toward. Kashmir used the elections to send a political message to the Modi government: Autonomy must be restored. Japan’s conviction rate is an astounding 99.8%, which is simply astounding if not an impossible statistic. In this case the judges did not grant the full periods of detention sought by prosecutors, and Ghosn’s lawyers ultimately succeeded in getting him released on bail under strict conditions. Interview photos by Igasaki Shinobu. ), crime With the Nepal Communist Party cracking apart, Beijing is scrambling to preserve its interests. The reality is more complicated. The Ghosn case presents a splendid opportunity to further our own understanding of both a foreign and our own criminal justice system. Naturally the prosecution goes to great lengths to ensure that criminals get their just deserts, but in doing so they also exercise a high degree of discretion in deciding which cases to pursue. Banner photo: A trial takes place in March 2018 at the Naha District Court. The press in Japan has often been critical of Ghosn while the Western media has generally been more receptive to his criticisms of the Japanese system. So how do conviction rates in the United States and Japan compare for similarly contested trials? This situation is of great concern to inmates and can only be described as unjust. While India and Pakistan argue and fight over the fate of Kashmir, is anyone listening to the Kashmiris? Japan’s often-cited conviction rate of over 99 percent is a percentage of all prosecuted cases, not just contested cases. Despite Japan having a low crime rate, such numbers create a significant case overload for prosecutors. "It is also seen as a chance given to a suspect to … Japanese legal scholars today would hardly espouse returning to the prewar system, but many firmly believe that judges should take a degree of control over proceedings instead of allowing lawyers to argue each aspect of a case in minute detail. "The Internet and social media’s arrival in the region have led to unprecedented levels of grassroots activism across societies.". 93.5%. This masks the fact that crime is on the decline overall and makes it seem that recidivism is growing. The question in these cases is whether the judges are willing to listen to their pleas with an unbiased ear. The result is that the Japanese legal system differs from the American model to such a degree that many law experts consider it not a true but a pseudo-adversarial system. On the one hand, because Japanese prosecutors are badly understaffed they may prosecute only their strongest cases and present judges only with the most obviously guilty defendants. INTERVIEWER  Are judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers fulfilling their roles properly? The Bank of Japan left its key short-term interest rate unchanged at -0.1 percent and maintained the target for the 10-year Japanese government bond yield at around 0 percent during its December meeting by an 8-1 vote. In a nation of more than 127 million people, it recorded only 440 homicides in 2014. justice. Harsh Judgment: Japan’s Criminal Justice System. Only 1,039 of more than 1.2 million people were found not guilty in the country’s Communist Party-controlled courts – resulting in an acquittal rate of around 0.08 per cent. The death rate was 1,116.2 per 100,000 population in 2019. MURAOKA  The prosecution has too much authority and the defense has too little. Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific. Public prosecutors typically concentrate on suits where conviction is almost guaranteed, leading to the suspension of around 60 percent of criminal cases in Japan without an indictment. In July 2016, a former employee of a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 residents and injured more than 20 others. And science and technology will only take us so far when it comes to future threats, conventional or otherwise. The most pressing issue, though, is the poor level of medical care. Conviction rates in Japan exceed 99 percent -- why? The prosecution exerts its authority to the detriment of the defense, and this imbalance has been allowed to become the status quo. Switching legal systems represented a fundamental shift in Japan’s approach to law. There’s also a need for judges to learn how to avoid implicit bias. The conviction rate is actually 99.3 percent, but the indictment rate is 37 percent. In 2017, the country had the seventh highest suicide rate in the OECD, at 14.9 per 100,000 persons.. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis, rates of suicide spiked heavily, increasing by 34.7% in 1998 alone and remaining relatively high thereafter. Understanding Japan's "Lost Decade" Real Estate Crisis Japan's Lost Decade . What does the 14th five-year plan tell us about China’s? Problems in finding comparable data make the analysis of conviction rates a complicated task. MURAOKA  The inquisitorial model is a two-sided system, with an investigating judge representing the state and a defendant. A view of culture as the determining factor in explaining differences in legal systems makes comparisons both difficult and largely meaningless. Many trials do end in acquittals, though. However, this doesn’t mean that the Japanese legal system has changed completely. Some 90 percent of the cases indicted in district courts result in confessions and guilty pleas, although in Japan these cases still go to trial. Most cases referred to prosecutors result in indictments (83.6 percent in federal cases). Ghosn’s case was atypical of white-collar criminal cases in Japan, as it included a lengthy pre-trial detention, his complete failure to cooperate (such as by providing a statement setting forth his version of events), and the presence of a flight risk. The two systems also include different categories of cases in “conviction rates,” making an apples-to-apples comparison quite a challenge. The Japanese legal system has been accused of abandoning the presumption of innocence for defendants. A Japanese court on Tuesday sentenced a man dubbed Japan's "Twitter killer" to death for the 2017 murders of eight women who posted suicidal thoughts on social media, and a brother of one of the victims. Japan crime rate & statistics for 2015 was 0.30, a 0% increase from 2014. From 1928 – 1943, Japan had a standard jury system, and the conviction rate was around 82 percent, says The Daily Beast. Us, Write Data in Japan, a unitary system, are far more systematic. Japan is a significant part of the Guilty Gear history, it spiritual culture giving its people a natural affinity to utilize Ki in various ways that include combat application. But does this clean image hide a darker side? MURAOKA  It’s said that Japan’s judicial system is based on the idea that it is better to let a hundred guilty people go free than falsely convict one innocent person. Much of the resulting commentary has highlighted a single statistic: Japan’s purported conviction rate of 99 percent. In the Meiji era [1868–1912], when the country was rapidly modernizing, Japan promulgated a Western-style constitution that established the emperor as the sovereign head of state. However, a rich and powerful person might be particularly offended by the detention conditions for noncooperating suspects. Systems in the United States and Japan have different strengths and weaknesses. Seoul has hesitated to tighten restrictions thus far, even as health authorities predict the number of daily cases might top 1,000. From armed robots and cyberattacks to grand strategic questions, four things to watch in the new year. One issue is how to determine the facts when the prosecution and defense present conflicting accounts. Japan is famous for having one of the safest societies in the world, with exceptionally low levels of crime. Women who would feel highly guilty for missing a child’s event or not caring for their parents are willing to sacrifice $12,000 in their annual wage to avoid 45+ hours a month of overtime. After the war, the current system where trained judges delivered the verdicts was put in place. There are always significant gaps between the high ideals that underpin criminal justice systems and the messy reality of criminal procedure in practice. The conviction rate is about 99% for cases that proceed to trial, and confessions are often the cornerstone piece of evidence, and the system for obtaining those is … It is hard to call Japan’s system a “failure” when it has among the lowest rates of crime, incarceration, and gun ownership in the world (in contrast to the U.S.). Japanese prosecutors, who pride themselves on a 99-percent conviction rate, still generally drop 50 … ... Japan’s crime rate is relatively low, but it has experienced some recent high-profile killings. The fact remains that conviction rates in both countries are strikingly high. MURAOKAThe conviction rate in most countries, including those with plea bargain systems, is generally over 90 percent. However, the procedures for clearing cases are quite different. law Whether sitting in a summary court or on the grand bench, judges are expected to follow the ironclad rule that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. INTERVIEWER  How does Japan’s conviction rate compare to other countries? This analysis contributes to the policy debate over work-life balance in Japan—a country famous for its long work hours. Since 2009 civilians have acted as lay judges on some cases. Japan has been deficient on this point. Will New Delhi heed that message? Examining Japan’s criminal justice system from a comparative perspective reveals the nuance behind an often-cited statistic. The value of comparative law lies in utilizing the study of another country’s system to shed new light, including a better understanding of your own system. Any comparison is further complicated by our image of dramatic courtroom battles in criminal cases, which is largely a made-for-TV myth. Japan crime rate & statistics for 2014 was 0.30, a 0% increase from 2013. INTERVIEWER  What are the main differences between the inquisitorial and adversarial systems? As a result of this and other issues, lawyers and criminal law experts are divided on how to evaluate Japan’s hybrid legal system. In July 2016, a former employee of a home for the … He is also an outside director at a listed Japanese company. The Ministry of Justice is working to address the issue, but has yet to come up with a solution. To be perceived as a major power, India must articulate a clear vision of a world order, something that it has not so far done. The arrest and criminal prosecution of Carlos Ghosn, together with his dramatic flight from Japan, have focused unprecedented international attention on Japan’s criminal justice system. Mask wearing and voluntary compliance with social distancing helped Japan avoid a full lockdown. Japan has exceptionally low levels of crime. In the U.S., the federal government employs 27,985 lawyers and the states employ another 38,242 (of which 24,700 are state prosecutors). This is why countries like the United States with adversarial judicial models have measures such as exclusionary rules built into the legal framework to protect the rights of the accused. Suspects are denied access to a lawyer while being questioned in order to squeeze a confession out of them. In the U.S. the conviction rate for contested trials is about 83 percent. MURAI  The Japanese press like to make a big deal about the recidivism rate, but there are a lot of factors that make it an inaccurate gauge of crime. Policy implications. Ghosn then famously fled Japan. By comparison, Japan’s 99.9 percent conviction rate is unnaturally high. Even so, though, there are defendants who plead innocent. There is no evidence Ghosn was treated any differently due to being a foreigner. The workings of criminal justice systems are, by their nature, controversial in advanced democratic countries, as they attempt to achieve a balance between public safety and individual rights. And although in Japan white collar criminals rarely go to jail, the enormous amount of alleged undisclosed compensation ($80 million) and retirement benefits ($60 million), together with the inclusion of more serious allegations of misuse of corporate funds, created uncertainty as to the possibility of jail time if convicted. However, we should also be conscious of making fair comparisons to maintain the level of discourse above cultural generalizations and one-sided attacks that are taken out of context. It is better to focus on the actual number of reoffenders, which is declining. Nearly all criminal cases that go to trial in Japan end in a guilty verdict. There is also a heavy reliance on documentary evidence that creates a pretrial air of guilt that can influence how a judge tries a case. The former Nissan CEO’s escape from house arrest in Japan to Lebanon shocked the world and embarrassed Japanese authorities. As noted above, in both the United States and Japan the vast majority of criminal cases are disposed of at an early stage. There are those who extol its merging of aspects of the inquisitorial and adversarial models. Prisoners go through rehabilitation programs aimed at helping them return to society and keeping them from reoffending. Mens rea (Latin for “a guilty mind”) is extremely difficult to prove so the chances of securing a rape conviction without evidence of violence or intimidation is small. Two veteran legal scholars explain how Japan came to have a 99.9% conviction rate and examine the issues facing Japanese prisons. As this isn’t happening, defense attorneys need to study the law more thoroughly and carefully follow proceedings to ascertain the leanings of the bench and act accordingly. There is a well-known “trial penalty” — a defendant who spurns the prosecutor’s offer of a plea bargain will generally receive a significantly higher sentence if found guilty at trial. Then there are purists like me who consider Japan’s pseudo-adversarial system to be severely flawed. It is closer to Japan’s traditional criminal law system, with the judge taking an active fact-finding role by reviewing evidence, questioning the various parties to establish facts, determining what information is applicable, and then passing judgement. In 2012, a Nepalese man sentenced to life imprisonment was found not guilty of a crime for which he served 15 years in jail and had always claimed he was innocent of. In Britain, for example, prosecutors use what is called the “51 percent rule” as a baseline in deciding whether to pursue a case, with the figure describing their confidence that a jury will decide in their favor. Unlike plea bargains in the United States, the suspect receives no punishment and has no criminal record. INTERVIEWER  How do these factors come together to create Japan’s high conviction rate? Cultural images are quickly deployed in “support” of such views. First is the basic principle of comparative law that I learned in law school: one should always try to avoid the trap of comparing “my theory with your practice.” Abstract theory always looks better than the troubling realities of practice. By comparison, the penal systems in many countries just lock prisoners away, making it hard for them to integrate back into society when they finally get out. This arrangement was abolished when Japan adopted the adversarial system, giving partisans equal opportunity to argue their case before the judge, and the prosecution now sits opposite the defense. Take, for example, the investigation process. MURAOKA  The conviction rate in most countries, including those with plea bargain systems, is generally over 90 percent. In 2016 the recidivism rate was 48.7 percent, which admittedly is high. India’s foreign trade policy must be aligned to its self-reliance goals. In Japan, with about a third of U.S. population, the entire government employs a mere 2,000. By comparison, Japan’s 99.9 percent conviction rate is unnaturally high. According to the White Paper on Crime, 2012 t he Japanese homicide rate in . INTERVIEWER  How did Japan arrive at its current criminal law system? Japanese prisons actually have a very good reputation internationally. Regrettably, this ideal is not shared equally by prosecutors, the police, or Japan’s legal system as a whole. Click here to subscribe for full access. But with cases climbing again, will Tokyo’s approach hold? Under that document it had an inquisitorial system modeled after Germany. ___ MURAI  The press likes to focus on the negative aspects of Japan’s penal system while ignoring the falling number of reoffenders. Prosecutors in any country generally pursue cases where they are confident of a positive outcome. Crime rates are low and have been continuously falling for the past eleven years. Guilty or not for exacerbating the suffering of Filipinos in 2020, Duterte is facing potentially tougher challenges in 2021. In the U.S. the conviction rate for contested trials is about 83 percent. Oli's controversial decision to dismiss Parliament cracked open a rift within the ruling Nepal Communist Party. This and the other issues I mentioned previously are what have produced Japan’s 99.9 percent conviction rate. Inmates must adhere to a long list of regulations, including how they fold bedding and wash their face. False accusations, though rare, can destroy lives so authorities are cautious when it comes to sexual assault, particularly in Japan. By comparison, the adversarial system is three-sided, consisting of a neutral judge, the prosecution, and the defense. The reason that some 60 percent of cases are deferred is because public prosecutors are overly concerned about losing a case and tarnishing their reputation. MURAI TOSHIKUNI  The state dominated the prewar system to such a degree that in the courtroom the public prosecutor sat along with the judge up on the stand, overlooking the defense lawyer and defendant. I have heard some judges admit that they fear the level of authority wielded by prosecutors. The conviction rate at trial in 2009-10, the latest report says, was 52.3 per cent. Under this arrangement the judge does not take an active role in investigating but serves as an unbiased referee, weighing the cases brought by the prosecution and defense and ruling according to the veracity of the evidence and testimony. However, they are still required to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Japan crime rate & statistics for 2017 was 0.20, a 33.33% decline from 2016. Some experts suggest that Japan’s overemphasis on achieving just results at the expense of protecting the rights of the accused results in “rough justice,” although I think the situation can be explained partially in terms of different legal cultures. In Japan, suicide (自殺, jisatsu) is considered a major social issue. I am privileged to know a number of dedicated legal professionals in Japan and the U.S. who do their utmost, at modest salaries, to achieve justice for criminal defendants. 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