- 1. Arrest in Japan: Introduction
- 2. Types of arrest in Japan
- 3. Things to do and not to do upon arrest
- 4. Proceedings after arrest
- 5. Important things you should know about arrest and detention
- 6. Conclusion
1. Arrest in Japan: Introduction
Here, we cover things you should know about arrest in Japan. If you are under arrest, be sure to request a lawyer to have professional assistance. Always remember that you have a right to remain silent. And keep in mind the importance of your written statements and never sign such documents if you feel uncomfortable with what is written. For details, read below:
2. Types of arrest in Japan
We have three types of arrest:
- Regular arrest with warrant
This happens when a law enforcement agency has a reasonable reason to suspect that you committed a crime and there is a possibility that you will flee or you will conceal or destruct evidence.
- In flagrante delicto arrest
In this case, you are caught red-handed and can be arrested without warrant. This often happens when you engage in shoplifting or pickpocketing.
Arrest in emergency
This is limited to cases when there are sufficient grounds to suspect a person to have committed a certain serious crime and when there is no time to obtain warrant before arrest.
3. Things to do and not to do upon arrest
Upon regular arrest, police officers will show you the warrant and say what crime you are accused of in Japanese. It is not mandatory for them to bring an interpreter with them. The word for “arrest” in Japanese is “taiho”. When you hear that word “taiho”, you should understand that you are under arrest.
Upon such situation:
Never, never try to hit, kick, push away or even touch or throw things at police officers in an attempt to avoid arrest.
If you do that, you may also be charged with simple “assault” or “assault against public officers” in addition to your original charge.
When you get arrested, try to bring your wallet with you.
This is for two things.
One is for money. You may want some money to buy stamps, memo pad, letter pad or even meal in a detention cell. Without money, you have to ask somebody to send money in to you, which might take time.
Another is for contact lists. If you have a memo paper with some contacts written in your wallet, it is easier for you to contact with your attorney and your family and friends. When all of your contacts are included in your mobile phone, which will usually be seized by the police and if you do not memorize such contact numbers, then it will be difficult to contact your attorney in the first place and your attorney will have some difficulty in obtaining your familly’s and friends’ contacts in your mobile phone. So one of my advice is always have some memo paper with some contacts including your attorney’s contact written (lawyer’s business card would be fine) in your wallet so that you can immediately contact with your attorney or family.
4. Proceedings after arrest
After arrest, you will be placed in a detention cell in a police station. Within 48 hours from arrest, you will be sent before a prosecutor to give a deposition. Here, you are asked whether you admit your charge or not. Do not forget that you always have a right to remain silent. Usually the day after such deposition, within 72 hours from arrest, you will be sent before a judge to have a detention hearing. You will also be asked the same things: that is, whether you admit your charge or deny it. Then, the judge will determine whether it is necessary to detain you to let the law enforcement agency investigate your charge. If there are any possibilities that you will flee or you will conceal or destroy any evidence (including putting any pressure on witnesses), then you will be detained. Also, if you have no fixed residence, then you will be detained.
The first detention is for 10 days at maximum. Then the prosecutor can request a judge for an extension of up to another 10 days at maximum. So in total, you may be detained for 20 days at maximum for one charge. By the end of such detention, the prosecutor will determine whether you should be prosecuted or not. Or the prosecutor will let you free without such decision and continue with its investigation without detaining you. If you are detained after being prosecuted, you can bail out yourself if the court permits it. At any point until prosecution, you might have a chance to be released. Having said that, such a chance is small even with your defense counsel. However, you will never get such a chance without a lawyer.
5. Important things you should know about arrest and detention
5-1 Right to remain silent
Remember that you always have a right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to say anything even if a prosecutor or a judge asks you whether you committed a crime you are charged for. You do not have to admit your charge or deny it.
5-2 Right to get assistance of interpreter
You also have a right to be supported by an interpreter. If you do not understand what your interpreter is saying during the process, say it. The criminal proceedings are full of concepts with cultural contexts, so an interpreter without professional skills may not be able to let you understand what Japanese-speaking lawyers are saying in the proceedings.
5-3 Right to get assistance of a lawyer
You also have a right to access a lawyer, of course. This means that you can request a police officer to call your lawyer after your arrest. If you do not have such a lawyer acquaintance, then you can request a police officer to send you a lawyer. This system is called “Toban (当番)” in Japanese. The bar association will send you a lawyer with an interpreter on the day of your request or the next day at the latest. You can have the first meeting with this lawyer for free, without charge. After such a meeting, you should decide whether you hire the lawyer or not. If you cannot afford a lawyer yourself with your personal assets less than 500,000 JPY, then you are entitled to a public defender or a court-appointed lawyer. In such a case, you can also have an interpreter assistance for free of charge.
It is really important to get assistance from a lawyer immediately after your arrest. This is true for a Japanese-speaking people and more so for non-Japanese-speaking people. It would be difficult to understand the criminal defense system and judicial proceedings in Japan without help and you cannot engage in such activities as collecting evidence or negotiating for a settlement with a victim if you are detained. So in any ways, you must first request a police officer to call a lawyer.
5-4 Do not sign written deposition inconsistent with your statement
Do not sign any written statements that you do not agree with. When you get interrogation from police officers or prosecutors, your oral statements will be recorded in a written deposition or written statement. The officers will read it to you and it will be interpreted and you will be asked to sign it. You can refuse to sign it if you do not like what is written or if you think there is anything that are not consistent with what you said. You can also ask the officer to correct it before signing it. In either way, never, never sign deposition or written statement that includes anything that you think is inconsistent with your oral statement. These written depositions or written statements will be used as evidence in the following court proceedings and it is almost impossible to deny, revise or change what is written in such depositions or statements if they have your signature.
Disappointingly, in Japan, a suspect or the accused does not have a right to have his/her lawyer to be present at interrogations by law enforcement agencies, thus in the end, you have to decide what to say to officers and whether to sign documents.
So to wrap up, before arrest, it is a better idea to have a memo of your contact lists in your wallet and bring it with you when you get arrested. If you are under arrest, be sure to request a lawyer to have professional assistance. Always remember that you have a right to remain silent. And keep in mind the importance of your written statements and never sign such documents if you feel uncomfortable with what is written.
If you need a defense lawyer help, call 03-6459-3502 at Alesia Law Office.
* You can watch the contents of this blog in this video