The length of police custody and interrogations without a lawyer are criticized, as is the rate of convictions.
“Hostage justice”, interrogations without a lawyer, death penalty … in the aftermath of the Ghosn case and with the approach of the 14 th UN Congress on criminal justice, end of April in Kyoto (western Japan) ), Japanese justice is under fire from critics and seeks to defend itself.
On Thursday, January 23, the deputy director of the Tokyo public prosecutor’s office, Takahiro Saito, castigated the assertions of the former president of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, Carlos Ghosn, that he was “interrogated until eight o’clock by day in the absence of any lawyer “ in a ” travesty against [his] human rights and [his] dignity “ . These statements are “clearly false and designed to deceive the media,” said Saito. “Ghosn was interviewed 70 days , about 130 of his detention, less than four hours per day on average.”
It was necessary to react to criticism and to explain oneself in the face of opinion. Tuesday, January 21, the Ministry of Justice therefore posted a series of questions and answers, in Japanese and English, to underline that in Japan, the justice system is independent, and to recall that the presumption of innocence prevails and imposes prosecutors “the burden” of proving the suspect’s guilt.
And that would explain precisely, maintains the ministry, the absence of a lawyer during interrogations, because their presence would complicate “the establishment of the truth” . The ministry also said that a measure providing for such a presence “would not be supported by the victims of crimes or by the Japanese people, who demand the truth” . This popular will is also advanced to justify the maintenance of the death penalty. On January 17, the government said that 80.8% of Japanese people deemed capital punishment “inevitable”.
This “burden” of proof is also believed to be the source of criticism, notably by the organization Human Rights Watch, of the system dubbed “hostage justice”, with police custody that could last twenty-three days and be renewed. indefinitely by invoking other charges. The ministry replied that the constitution authorized the suspect to remain silent and that justice, respectful of human rights, “does not force confessions by unduly detaining suspects”.