As more details emerge of Ghosn’s daring flight to Lebanon to avoid trial, police are ramping up investigations around those close to the former Nissan chief. INTERVIEWERHow does Japan’s conviction rate compare to other countries? In the United States a similar danger is present in plea bargaining. Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific. Japan's infant mortality rate was 1.9 per 1,000 births in 2019. Japan's economy was the envy of the world in the 1980s—it grew at an average annual rate … 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. Any comparison is further complicated by our image of dramatic courtroom battles in criminal cases, which is largely a made-for-TV myth. 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. 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. Data in the United States, which has a complex federal structure, are only fragmentary concerning the bulk of the cases, which occur at the state level. 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. Murder rate: Homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants in various countries. After the war, the current system where trained judges delivered the verdicts was put in place. The prosecution exerts its authority to the detriment of the defense, and this imbalance has been allowed to become the status quo. 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. This situation is of great concern to inmates and can only be described as unjust. 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.). While there are positive aspects of Japan’s correctional system, it’s also important to recognize the problems. Both systems struggle to provide oversight of confessions and plea bargains, respectively, by means of judicial hearings. MURAI  The press likes to focus on the negative aspects of Japan’s penal system while ignoring the falling number of reoffenders. In July 2016, a former employee of a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 residents and injured more than 20 others. There is no evidence Ghosn was treated any differently due to being a foreigner. 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. In Japan the majority of cases are cleared by prosecutors through the exercise of broad discretion to refrain from bringing any indictment. Interview photos by Igasaki Shinobu. Most cases referred to prosecutors result in indictments (83.6 percent in federal cases). India’s foreign trade policy must be aligned to its self-reliance goals. What is behind Japan’s 99% conviction rate? 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. This analysis contributes to the policy debate over work-life balance in Japan—a country famous for its long work hours. justice. 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. Japan has a conviction rate of over 99%, most of which are secured on the back of a confession. False accusations, though rare, can destroy lives so authorities are cautious when it comes to sexual assault, particularly in Japan. There are always significant gaps between the high ideals that underpin criminal justice systems and the messy reality of criminal procedure in practice. Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, was found guilty in the high-profile case by the Tachikawa branch… How did I do on my outlook for Central Asia 2020? Take, for example, the investigation process. There are those who extol its merging of aspects of the inquisitorial and adversarial models. Enjoying this article? Japan has been deficient on this point. Regrettably, this ideal is not shared equally by prosecutors, the police, or Japan’s legal system as a whole. It is better to focus on the actual number of reoffenders, which is declining. Us, Write 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. On top of that the conviction rate here reportedly exceeds 99%, compared with around 93% in the US and 83% in the UK, (according to various sources). By comparison, Japan’s 99.9 percent conviction rate is unnaturally high. There have been two fundamental problems. This is true of both critics and defenders of Japan’s criminal justice system. Japan crime rate & statistics for 2015 was 0.30, a 0% increase from 2014. The case for greater cooperation in the protection of ASEAN’s migrant workers. 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. The vast majority of prosecuted cases are decided by guilty pleas achieved through plea bargains (over 97 percent at the federal level; see here for U.S. FY 2016 data), and less than 3 percent of cases go to trial. But with cases climbing again, will Tokyo’s approach hold? Inmates become ill like other people, but because they are incarcerated they have limited options for treatment, and health conditions often go unattended. The two systems also include different categories of cases in “conviction rates,” making an apples-to-apples comparison quite a challenge. I have heard some judges admit that they fear the level of authority wielded by prosecutors. Systems in the United States and Japan have different strengths and weaknesses. Bringing the cases to court is a different matter. Prosecutors in any country generally pursue cases where they are confident of a positive outcome. 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. As noted above, in both the United States and Japan the vast majority of criminal cases are disposed of at an early stage. Japan’s criminal justice system has a stunning 99 per cent conviction rate (which gives ironic new meaning to the sobriquet “the one percent”), and that could be … Examining Japan’s criminal justice system from a comparative perspective reveals the nuance behind an often-cited statistic. However, they are still required to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In the U.S. the conviction rate for contested trials is about 83 percent. "The Internet and social media’s arrival in the region have led to unprecedented levels of grassroots activism across societies.". Two veteran legal scholars explain how Japan came to have a 99.9% conviction rate and examine the issues facing Japanese prisons. Japanese prisons actually have a very good reputation internationally. MURAOKA KEIICHI  Criminal law in Japan can be divided historically into the prewar and postwar systems. Second is the unfortunate tendency to quickly resort to broad cultural generalizations and stereotypes whenever there is a discussion of Japan. Figures do not take into account rape incidents that go unreported to the police. This column represents solely his personal opinion. If the conviction rate is so high, then it defeats the whole purpose of having a judge overlooking the case and the concept of a fair trial. Despite Japan having a low crime rate, such numbers create a significant case overload for prosecutors. 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. 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. The introduction of the jury system in 2009 does not seem to have changed much. This masks the fact that crime is on the decline overall and makes it seem that recidivism is growing. So how do conviction rates in the United States and Japan compare for similarly contested trials? Mask wearing and voluntary compliance with social distancing helped Japan avoid a full lockdown. Japan’s often-cited conviction rate of over 99 percent is a percentage of all prosecuted cases, not just contested 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. 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. Shiraishi, 30, pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal his death sentence. This difference of roughly 13 percent is significant for defendants, but hardly the yawning chasm one would imagine from reading recent commentary on the Ghosn case. 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. Rape rate: Number of rape incidents per 100,000 citizens in different countries. Click here to subscribe for full access. INTERVIEWER  What are the main differences between the inquisitorial and adversarial systems? In both the United States and Japan the overwhelming majority of criminal cases are cleared without trial, and conviction rates in the remaining contested cases are strikingly high. 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. Prosecutors in any country generally pursue cases where they are confident of a positive outcome. The reality is more complicated. This makes it exceedingly difficult for judges to acquit a defendant. © Jiji. Anyone who posed a significant flight risk would be a good candidate for detention until trial, in the United States as well as Japan. You’d be hard-pressed to find such a long litany of rules as those that exist in Japanese prisons, and Japan has drawn international criticism for this martinetish approach. All too frequently, though, court rulings ignore this fundamental principle. One is the military-style organization of prisons. Kashmir used the elections to send a political message to the Modi government: Autonomy must be restored. 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. Bruce Aronson is an Affiliated Scholar at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law, and is co-editor of a recently published textbook, Corporate Governance in Asia: A Comparative Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2019). 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. In reality, though, prosecutors and the police prefer the more balanced approach of sparing the innocent while assuring that the guilty are punished. Since 2009 civilians have acted as lay judges on some cases. In Japan, suicide (自殺, jisatsu) is considered a major social issue. Japan is famous for having one of the safest societies in the world, with exceptionally low levels of crime. MURAI  Japan adheres to the idea of “precision justice,” whereby prosecuting lawyers are under strict judicial requirements to thoroughly investigate cases to make them nearly airtight. In a nation of more than 127 million people, it recorded only 440 homicides in 2014. Understanding Japan's "Lost Decade" Real Estate Crisis Japan's Lost Decade . Downloadable! However, the methods of clearing cases and calculating conviction rates differ. Until 2005, the statute of limitations on murder was only 15 years. Japan’s conviction rate is an astounding 99.8%, which is simply astounding if not an impossible statistic. A view of culture as the determining factor in explaining differences in legal systems makes comparisons both difficult and largely meaningless. 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. The conviction rate is actually 99.3 percent, but the indictment rate is 37 percent. We should not hesitate to point out weaknesses in all criminal justice systems and advocate for reform. The Japanese legal system has been accused of abandoning the presumption of innocence for defendants. Will New Delhi heed that message? All military forces have a desired force requirement and a desired “critical mass” to aspire toward. In any legal system the state has an advantage of power. 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 goes without saying that judges must uphold the standard of presumed innocence, but for this to happen defense lawyers need to step up and take on a greater role in proceedings. In Japan, the conviction rate for contested cases is over 96 percent. Prisoners go through rehabilitation programs aimed at helping them return to society and keeping them from reoffending. Japan’s justice minister, Masako Mori, speaks to the media about Ghosn’s escape. Data in Japan, a unitary system, are far more systematic. As a result of this and other issues, lawyers and criminal law experts are divided on how to evaluate Japan’s hybrid legal system. The Ghosn case presents a splendid opportunity to further our own understanding of both a foreign and our own criminal justice system. 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. Banner photo: A trial takes place in March 2018 at the Naha District Court. From armed robots and cyberattacks to grand strategic questions, four things to watch in the new year. Japan’s conviction rate creeping toward 100 percent has raised red flags among legal scholars overseas who question whether judges are actually ruling according to the law or are merely deferring to the prosecution. Policy implications. Harsh Judgment: Japan’s Criminal Justice System. However, authorities came up with that figure by comparing overall crime figures against first-time offenders. What does the 14th five-year plan tell us about China’s? MURAOKA  The conviction rate in most countries, including those with plea bargain systems, is generally over 90 percent. However, a rich and powerful person might be particularly offended by the detention conditions for noncooperating suspects. Not every case is clear cut, which is why the presumption of innocence must be a priority. By comparison, the adversarial system is three-sided, consisting of a neutral judge, the prosecution, and the defense. Under that document it had an inquisitorial system modeled after Germany. Geoffrey Ducanes, Puja Dutta and Nicola Nixon, About On the surface the criminal justice system in Japan appears to be working very well. ... Japan’s crime rate is relatively low, but it has experienced some recent high-profile killings. In Japan, going to trial with such a low level of assuredness of the outcome would be unthinkable. Seoul has hesitated to tighten restrictions thus far, even as health authorities predict the number of daily cases might top 1,000. There are of course many on the bench who are capable of hearing cases with an unbiased ear, but they are in the minority. While India and Pakistan argue and fight over the fate of Kashmir, is anyone listening to the Kashmiris? Guilty or not for exacerbating the suffering of Filipinos in 2020, Duterte is facing potentially tougher challenges in 2021. The question in these cases is whether the judges are willing to listen to their pleas with an unbiased ear. (Originally published in Japanese based on an interview by Takahashi Yuki of Power News. The BoJ also mentioned that it will not change its yield curve control or quantitative easing framework. The U.S. and Japanese systems also have common fundamental problems, in particular the potential for coercion in clearing the bulk of criminal cases. MURAOKA  The inquisitorial model is a two-sided system, with an investigating judge representing the state and a defendant. Japan’s conv… Switching legal systems represented a fundamental shift in Japan’s approach to law. Even so, though, there are defendants who plead innocent. In the United States, this is done through plea bargains. However, the procedures for clearing cases are quite different. This and the other issues I mentioned previously are what have produced Japan’s 99.9 percent conviction rate. The former Nissan CEO’s escape from house arrest in Japan to Lebanon shocked the world and embarrassed Japanese authorities. 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. MURAOKAThe conviction rate in most countries, including those with plea bargain systems, is generally over 90 percent. "It is also seen as a chance given to a suspect to … 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. From 1928 – 1943, Japan had a standard jury system, and the conviction rate was around 82 percent, says The Daily Beast. Prosecutors decide to indict in less than one-third of the referred cases (for Japanese FY2017 data in English, see here and here). In Japan this occurs in the context of forced confessions during detention of suspects whose lawyers are not present during interrogation. 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. 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. INTERVIEWER  What are some key issues Japan’s criminal justice system faces? Source: Ministry of Justice, Annual Report of Statistics on Prosecution. Ghosn then famously fled Japan. Japan crime rate & statistics for 2017 was 0.20, a 33.33% decline from 2016. Japan's crime rate is relatively low, but it has experienced some recent high-profile killings. 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. In 2011, its intentional homicide rate was 0.3 per 100,000 people, while America's rate was 4.7 per 100,000 people. Conviction rates in Japan exceed 99 percent -- why? In Japan, with about a third of U.S. population, the entire government employs a mere 2,000. 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. 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. If the U.S. conviction rate were calculated in a similar manner it would also exceed 99 percent since so few cases are contested at trial (in FY 2018 only 320 of the total number of 79,704 federal defendants were acquitted at trial). In 2016 the recidivism rate was 48.7 percent, which admittedly is high. Thoughtful comparisons are more persuasive and useful for reform efforts. Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. However, they are still required to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 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. ___ 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. 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. 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. With the Nepal Communist Party cracking apart, Beijing is scrambling to preserve its interests. Nearly all criminal cases that go to trial in Japan end in a guilty verdict. 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. Shiraishi, 30, pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal his death sentence. Japan has exceptionally low levels of crime. In Japan, the conviction rate for contested cases is over 96 percent. Why has there been so little discussion of comparable issues in these different systems? It is eye-catching, but misleading, since it counts as convictions those cases in which defendants pleaded guilty. for Us. 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. MURAOKA  The prosecution has too much authority and the defense has too little. INTERVIEWER  How do these factors come together to create Japan’s high conviction rate? Japanese prosecutors, who pride themselves on a 99-percent conviction rate, still generally drop 50 … And science and technology will only take us so far when it comes to future threats, conventional or otherwise. Japan crime rate & statistics for 2014 was 0.30, a 0% increase from 2013. 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. The Japanese criminal justice system struggled to deal with the Ghosn case. But does this clean image hide a darker side? However, it wasn’t a clean break, as Japan rolled many institutional legacies of the Meiji system into the postwar framework. Order in the Court: Explaining Japan’s 99.9% Conviction Rate. Problems in finding comparable data make the analysis of conviction rates a complicated task. (Spoiler: I didn't know there'd be a pandemic). 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. Following World War II, it adopted the Constitution of Japan establishing the sovereignty of the people, and under the influence of American legal concepts it changed to an adversarial system. He is also an outside director at a listed Japanese company. The conviction rate at trial in 2009-10, the latest report says, was 52.3 per cent. This creates a situation where they are unlikely to hand down a verdict of not guilty—a decision that would nearly always lead to the prosecution appealing the verdict, potentially overturning the decision in the higher court. INTERVIEWER  Japan’s recidivism rate is said to be high, but is this really the case? Desired “ critical mass ” to aspire toward good reputation internationally a whole clean image hide a darker side difference. 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