Traditional Japanese legend maintains that Japan was founded in 600 BC by the Emperor Jimmu, a direct descendant of the sun goddess and ancestor of the present ruling imperial family. About AD 405, the Japanese court officially adopted the Chinese writing system. During the sixth century, Buddhism was introduced. These two events revolutionized Japanese culture and marked the beginning of a long period of Chinese cultural influence. From the establishment of the first fixed capital at Nara in 710 until 1867, the emperors of the Yamato dynasty were the nominal rulers, but actual power was usually held by powerful court nobles, regents, or "shoguns" (military governors).
The first contact with the West occurred about 1542, when a Portuguese ship, blown off its course to China, landed in Japan. During the next century, traders from Portugal, the Netherlands, England, and Spain arrived, as did Jesuit, Dominican, and Franciscan missionaries. During the early part of the 17th century, Japan's shogunate suspected that the traders and missionaries were actually forerunners of a military conquest by European powers. This caused the shogunate to place foreigners under progressively tighter restrictions. Ultimately, Japan forced all foreigners to leave and barred all relations with the outside world except for severely restricted commercial contacts with Dutch and Chinese merchants at Nagasaki. This isolation lasted for 200 years, until Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy forced the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
Within several years, renewed contact with the West profoundly altered Japanese society. The shogunate was forced to resign, and the emperor was restored to power. The "Meiji restoration" of 1868 initiated many reforms. The feudal system was abolished, and numerous Western institutions were adopted, including a Western legal system and constitutional government along quasi-parliamentary lines.
In 1898, the last of the "unequal treaties" with Western powers was removed, signaling Japan's new status among the nations of the world. In a few decades, by creating modern social, educational, economic, military, and industrial systems, the Emperor Meiji's "controlled revolution" had transformed a feudal and isolated state into a world power.
Japanese leaders of the late 19th century regarded the Korean Peninsula as a "dagger pointed at the heart of Japan." It was over Korea that Japan became involved in war with the Chinese Empire in 1894-95 and with Russia in 1904-05. The war with China established Japan's dominant interest in Korea, while giving it the Pescadores Islands and Formosa (now Taiwan). After Japan defeated Russia in 1905, the resulting Treaty of Portsmouth awarded Japan certain rights in Manchuria and in southern Sakhalin, which Russia had received in 1875 in exchange for the Kurile Islands. Both wars gave Japan a free hand in Korea, which it formally annexed in 1910.
World War I permitted Japan, which fought on the side of the victorious Allies, to expand its influence in Asia and its territorial holdings in the Pacific. The postwar era brought Japan unprecedented prosperity. Japan went to the peace conference at Versailles in 1919 as one of the great military and industrial powers of the world and received official recognition as one of the "Big Five" of the new international order. It joined the League of Nations and received a mandate over Pacific islands north of the Equator formerly held by Germany.
During the 1920s, Japan progressed toward a democratic system of government. However, parliamentary government was not rooted deeply enough to withstand the economic and political pressures of the 1930s, during which military leaders became increasingly influential.
Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and set up the puppet state of Manchukuo. In 1933, Japan resigned from the League of Nations. The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 followed Japan's signing of the "anti-Comintern pact" with Nazi Germany the previous year and was part of a chain of developments culminating in the Japanese attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
After almost 4 years of war, resulting in the loss of 3 million Japanese lives and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan signed an instrument of surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Harbor on September 2, 1945. As a result of World War II, Japan lost all of its overseas possessions and retained only the home islands. Manchukuo was dissolved, and Manchuria was returned to China; Japan renounced all claims to Formosa; Korea was granted independence; southern Sakhalin and the Kuriles were occupied by the U.S.S.R.; and the United States became the sole administering authority of the Ryukyu, Bonin, and Volcano Islands. The 1972 reversion of Okinawa completed the United States' return of control of these islands to Japan.
After the war, Japan was placed under international control of the Allies through the Supreme Commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. U.S. objectives were to ensure that Japan would become a peaceful nation and to establish democratic self-government supported by the freely expressed will of the people. Political, economic, and social reforms were introduced, such as a freely elected Japanese Diet (legislature) and universal adult suffrage. The country's constitution took effect on May 3, 1947. The United States and 45 other Allied nations signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan in September 1951. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in March 1952, and under the terms of the treaty, Japan regained full sovereignty on April 28, 1952.
The public and the government appear to tolerate certain forms of public disorder as inherent to a properly functioning democracy. Demonstrations usually follow established forms. Groups receive legal permits and keep to assigned routes and areas. Placards and bullhorns are used to express positions. Traffic is sometimes disrupted, and occasional shoving battles between police and protesters result. But arrests are rare and generally are made only in cases involving violence.
Political extremists have not hesitated to use violence and are held responsible for bombings in connection with popular causes. In January 1990, the mayor of Nagasaki was shot by a member of the right-wing Seikijuku (Sane Thinkers School), presumably for a statement he had made that was perceived as critical of the late Emperor Hirohito. That attack came two days after the left-wing Chukakuha (Middle Core Faction), opposed to the imperial system, claimed responsibility for firing a rocket onto the grounds of the residence of the late emperor's brother and a day before the government announced the events leading to the enthronement of Emperor Akihito in November 1990. The enthronement ceremonies were considered likely targets for extremist groups on the left and the right who saw the mysticism surrounding the emperor as being overemphasized or excessively reduced respectively, but no serious incidents took place. Although membership in these groups represent only a minute portion of the population and present no serious threat to the government, authorities are concerned about the example set by the groups' violence, as well as by the particular violent events. Violent protest by radicals also occur in the name of causes apparently isolated from public sentiments. Occasional clashes between leftist factions and between leftists and rightists have injured both participants and bystanders. Security remains heavy at New Tokyo International Airport at Narita-Sanrizuka in Chiba Prefecture, the scene of violent protests in the 1970s by radical groups supporting local farmers opposed to expropriation of their land.
The most notorious extremists were the Japanese Red Army, a Marxist terrorist group. This group was responsible for an attack on Lod International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, in support of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1972. It participated in an attack on a Shell Oil refinery in Singapore in 1974 and seized the French embassy in The Hague that same year and the United States and Swedish embassies in Kuala Lumpur in 1975. In 1977 the Japanese Red Army hijacked a Japan Airlines jet over India in a successful demand for a US$6 million ransom and the release of six inmates in Japanese prisons. Following heavy criticism at home and abroad for the government's "caving in" to terrorists' demands, the authorities announced their intention to recall and reissue approximately 5.6 million valid Japanese passports to make hijacking more difficult. A special police unit was formed to keep track of the terrorist group, and tight airport security measures were instigated. Despite issuing regular threats, the Japanese Red Army was relatively inactive in the 1980s. In 1990 its members were reported to be in North Korea and Lebanon undergoing further training and were available as mercenaries to promote various political causes.
Japan's relationships with the newly industrialized economies (NIEs) of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, together often called the Four Tigers, were marked by both cooperation and competition. After the early 1980s, when Tokyo extended a large financial credit to South Korea for essentially political reasons, Japan avoided significant aid relationships with the NIEs. Relations instead involved capital investment, technology transfer, and trade. Increasingly, the NIEs came to be viewed as Japan's rivals in the competition for export markets for manufactured goods, especially the vast United States market.
Japan is an extremely homogeneous society with non-Japanese, mostly Koreans, making up less than 1% of the population. The Japanese people are primarily the descendants of various peoples who migrated from Asia in prehistoric times; the dominant strain is N Asian or Mongoloid, with some Malay and Indonesian admixture. One of the earliest groups, the Aino, who still persist to some extent in Hokkaido, are physically somewhat similar to Caucasians.
Contemporary Japan is a secular society. Creating harmonious relations with others through reciprocity and the fulfillment of social obligations is more significant for most Japanese than an individual's relationship to a transcendent God. Harmony, order, and self-development are three of the most important values that underlie Japanese social interaction. Basic ideas about self and the nature of human society are drawn from several religious and philosophical traditions. Religious practice, too, emphasizes the maintenance of harmonious relations with others (both spiritual beings and other humans) and the fulfillment of social obligations as a member of a family and a community.
Japan's principal religions are Shinto and Buddihism; most Japanese adhere to both faiths. While the development of Shinto was radically altered by the influence of Buddhism, which was brought from China in the 6th cent., Japanese varieties of Buddhism also developed in sects such as Jodo, Shingon, and Nichiren. Numerous sects, called the "new religions," formed after World War II and have attracted many members. One of these, the Soka Gokkai, a Buddhist sect, grew rapidly in the 1950s and 60s and became a strong social and political force. Less than 1% of the population are Christians. Confucianism has deeply affected Japanese thought and was part of the generally significant influence that Chinese culture wielded on the formation of Japanese civilization.
Three basic features of the nation's system of criminal justice characterize its operations. First, the institutions--police, government prosecutor's offices, courts, and correctional organs-- maintain close and cooperative relations with each other, consulting frequently on how best to accomplish the shared goals of limiting and controlling crime. Second, citizens are encouraged to assist in maintaining public order, and they participate extensively in crime prevention campaigns, apprehension of suspects, and offender rehabilitation programs. Finally, officials who administer criminal justice are allowed considerable discretion in dealing with offenders.
Until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the criminal justice system was controlled mainly by daimyo. Public officials, not laws, guided and constrained people to conform to moral norms. In accordance with the Confucian ideal, officials were to serve as models of behavior; the people, who lacked rights and had only obligations, were expected to obey. Such laws as did exist were transmitted through local military officials in the form of local domain laws. Specific enforcement varied from domain to domain, and no formal penal codes existed. Justice was generally harsh, and severity depended upon one's status. Kin and neighbors could share blame for an offender's guilt: whole families and villages could be flogged or put to death for one member's transgression.
After 1868 the justice system underwent rapid transformation. The first publicly promulgated legal codes, the Penal Code of 1880 and the Code of Criminal Instruction of 1880, were based on French models. Offenses were specified, and set punishments were established for particular crimes. Both codes were innovative in that they treated all citizens as equals, provided for centralized administration of criminal justice, and prohibited punishment by ex post facto law. Guilt was held to be personal; collective guilt and guilt by association were abolished. Offenses against the emperor were spelled out for the first time.
Innovative aspects of the codes notwithstanding, certain provisions reflected traditional attitudes toward authority. The prosecutor represented the state and sat with the judge on a raised platform--his position above the defendant and the defense counsel suggesting their relative status. Under a semi-inquisitorial system, primary responsibility for questioning witnesses lay with the judge and defense counsel could question witnesses only through the judge. Cases were referred to trial only after a judge presided over a preliminary fact-finding investigation in which the suspect was not permitted counsel. Because in all trials available evidence had already convinced the court in a preliminary procedure, the defendant's legal presumption of innocence at trial was undermined, and the legal recourse open to his counsel was further weakened.
The Penal Code was substantially revised in 1907 to reflect the growing influence of German law in Japan, and the French practice of classifying offenses into three types was eliminated. More important, where the old code had allowed very limited judicial discretion, the new one permitted the judge to apply a wide range of subjective factors in sentencing.
After World War II, occupation authorities initiated reform of the constitution and laws in general. Except for omitting offenses relating to war, the imperial family, and adultery, the 1947 Penal Code remained virtually identical to the 1907 version. The criminal procedure code, however, was substantially revised to incorporate rules guaranteeing the rights of the accused. The system became almost completely accusatorial, and the judge, although still able to question witnesses, decided a case on evidence presented by both sides. The preliminary investigative procedure was suppressed. The prosecutor and defense counsel sat on equal levels, below the judge. Laws on indemnification of the wrongly accused and laws concerning juveniles, prisons, probation, and minor offenses were also passed in the postwar years to supplement criminal justice administration.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The National Police Agency divides crime into six main categories. Felonies--the most serious and carrying the stiffest penalties--includes murder and conspiracy to murder, robbery, rape, and arson. Violent offenses consist of unlawful assembly while possessing a dangerous weapon, simple and aggravated assault, extortion, and intimidation. Larceny encompasses burglary, vehicle theft, and shoplifting. Crimes classified as intellectual include fraud, embezzlement, counterfeiting, forgery, bribery, and breach of trust. Moral offenses include gambling, indecent exposure, and the distribution of obscene literature. Miscellaneous offenses frequently involve the obstruction of official duties, negligence with fire, unauthorized entry, negligent homicide or injury (often in traffic accidents), possession of stolen property, and destruction of property. Special laws define other criminal offenses, among them prostitution, illegal possession of swords and firearms, customs violations, and possession of controlled substances, including narcotics and marijuana.
In 1990 the police identified over 2.2 million Penal Code violations. Two types of violations--larceny (65.1 percent of total violations) and negligent homicide or injury as a result of accidents (26.2 percent)--accounted for over 90 percent of criminal offenses in Japan. Major crimes occur in Japan at a very low rate. In 1989 Japan experienced 1.3 robberies per 100,000 population, compared with 48.6 for West Germany, 65.8 for Britain, and 233.0 for the United States; and it experienced 1.1 murder per 100,000 population, compared with 3.9 for West Germany, 9.1 for Britain, and 8.7 for the United States that same year. Japanese authorities also solve a high percentage of robbery cases (75.9 percent, compared with 43.8 percent for West Germany, 26.5 percent for Britain, and 26.0 percent for the United States) and homicide cases (95.9 percent, compared with 94.4 percent for Germany, 78.0 percent for Britain, and 68.3 percent for the United States).
An important factor keeping crime low is the traditional emphasis on the individual as a member of groups to which he or she must not bring shame. Within these groups--family, friends, and associates at work or school--a Japanese citizen has social rights and obligations, derives valued emotional support, and meets powerful expectations to conform. These informal social sanctions display remarkable potency despite competing values in a changing society. Other important factors keeping the crime rate low are the prosperous economy and a strict and effective weapons control law. Ownership of handguns is forbidden to the public, hunting rifles and ceremonial swords are registered with the police, and the manufacture and sale of firearms are regulated. The production and sale of live and blank ammunition are also controlled, as are the transportation and importation of all weapons. Crimes are seldom committed with firearms.
Despite Japan's status as a modern, urban nation--a condition linked by many criminologists to growing rates of crime--the nation does not suffer from steadily rising levels of criminal activity. Although crime continues to be higher in urban areas, rates of crime remain relatively constant nationwide, and rates of violent crime continue to decrease.
The nation is not problem free, however; of particular concern to the police are crimes associated with modernization. Increased wealth and technological sophistication has brought new whitecollar crimes, such as computer and credit card fraud, larceny involving coin dispensers, and insurance falsification. Incidence of drug abuse is minuscule, compared with other industrialized nations and limited mainly to stimulants. Japanese law enforcement authorities endeavor to control this problem by extensive coordination with international investigative organizations and stringent punishment of Japanese and foreign offenders. Traffic accidents and fatalities consume substantial law enforcement resources.
Juvenile delinquency, although not nearly as serious as in most industrialized nations, is of great concern to the authorities. In 1990 over 52 percent of persons arrested for criminal offenses (other than negligent homicide or injuries) were juveniles. Over 70 percent of the juveniles arrested were charged with larceny, mainly shoplifting and theft of motorcycles and bicycles. The failure of the Japanese education system to address the concerns of nonuniversity-bound students is cited as an important factor in the rise of juvenile crime.
The yakuza (underworld) had existed in Japan well before the 1800s and followed codes based on bushido. Their early operations were usually close-knit, and the leader and gang members had father-son relationships. Although this traditional arrangement continues to exist, yakuza activities are increasingly replaced by modern types of gangs that depend on force and money as organizing concepts. Nonetheless, yakuza often picture themselves as saviors of traditional Japanese virtues in a postwar society, sometimes forming ties with right-wing groups espousing the same views and attracting dissatisfied youths to their ranks.
Yakuza groups in 1990 were estimated to number more than 3,300 and together contained more than 88,000 members. Although concentrated in the largest urban prefectures, yakuza operate in most cities and often receive protection from highranking officials in exchange for their assistance in keeping the crime rate low by discouraging criminals operating individually or in small groups. Following concerted police pressure in the 1960s, smaller gangs either disappeared or began to consolidate in syndicate-type organizations. In 1990, three large syndicates dominated underworld crime in the nation and controlled more than 1,600 gangs and 42,000 gangsters.
Today, the crime rate in Japan is low compared to other industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Japan. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2001 was 1.05 per 100,000 population for Japan, and 5.61 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2001 was 1.75 for Japan and 31.77 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2001 was 5.02 for Japan, and 148.50 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2001 was 26.68 for Japan, and 318.55 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2001 was 238.59 for Japan, and 740.80 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2001 was 1550.41 for Japan, and 2484.64 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2001 was 49.71 for Japan and 430.64 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 1873.21 for Japan and 4160.51 for USA.
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 and 2001, according to Interpol data, the rate of murder increased from 1.02 to 1.05 per 100,000 population, an increase of 2.9%. The rate for rape increased from 1.19 to 1.75, an increase of 47.1% The rate of robbery increased from 1.81 to 5.02, an increase of 177.3%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 13.92 to 26.68, an increase of 91.7%. The rate for burglary increased from 186.82 to 238.59, an increase of 27.7%. The rate of larceny increased from 1035.44 to 1,550.41 an increase of 49.7%. The rate of motor vehicle theft increased from 28.45 to 49.71, an increase of 74.7%. The rate of total index offenses increased from 1268.65 to 1873.21, an increase of 47.7%.
The Japanese government established a European-style civil police system in 1874, under the centralized control of the Police Bureau within the Home Ministry, to put down internal disturbances and maintain order during the Meiji Restoration. By the 1880s, the police had developed into a nationwide instrument of government control, providing support for local leaders and enforcing public morality. They acted as general civil administrators, implementing official policies and thereby facilitating unification and modernization. In rural areas especially, the police had great authority and were accorded the same mixture of fear and respect as the village head. Their increasing involvement in political affairs was one of the foundations of the authoritarian state in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century.
The centralized police system steadily acquired responsibilities, until it controlled almost all aspects of daily life, including fire prevention and mediation of labor disputes. The system regulated public health, business, factories, and construction, and it issued permits and licenses. The Peace Preservation Law of 1925 gave police the authority to arrest people for "wrong thoughts." Special Higher Police were created to regulate the content of motion pictures, political meetings, and election campaigns. Military police operating under the army and navy and the justice and home ministries aided the civilian police in limiting proscribed political activity. After the Manchurian Incident of 1931, military police assumed greater authority, leading to friction with their civilian counterparts. After 1937 police directed business activities for the war effort, mobilized labor, and controlled transportation.
After Japan's surrender in 1945, occupation authorities retained the prewar police structure until a new system was implemented and the Diet passed the 1947 Police Law. Contrary to Japanese proposals for a strong, centralized force to deal with postwar unrest, the police system was decentralized. About 1,600 independent municipal forces were established in cities, towns, and villages with 5,000 inhabitants or more, and a National Rural Police was organized by prefecture. Civilian control was to be ensured by placing the police under the jurisdiction of public safety commissions controlled by the National Public Safety Commission in the Office of the Prime Minister. The Home Ministry was abolished and replaced by the less powerful Ministry of Home Affairs, and the police were stripped of their responsibility for fire protection, public health, and other administrative duties.
When most of the occupation forces were transferred to Korea in 1950-51, the 75,000 strong National Police Reserve was formed to back up the ordinary police during civil disturbances, and pressure mounted for a centralized system more compatible with Japanese political preferences. The 1947 Police Law was amended in 1951 to allow the municipal police of smaller communities to merge with the National Rural Police. Most chose this arrangement, and by 1954 only about 400 cities, towns, and villages still had their own police forces. Under the 1954 amended Police Law, a final restructuring created an even more centralized system in which local forces were organized by prefectures under a National Police Agency.
The revised Police Law of 1954, still in effect in the 1990s, preserves some strong points of the postwar system, particularly measures ensuring civilian control and political neutrality, while allowing for increased centralization. The National Public Safety Commission system has been retained. State responsibility for maintaining public order has been clarified to include coordination of national and local efforts; centralization of police information, communications, and recordkeeping facilities; and national standards for training, uniforms, pay, rank, and promotion. Rural and municipal forces were abolished and integrated into prefectural forces, which handled basic police matters. Officials and inspectors in various ministries and agencies continue to exercise special police functions assigned to them in the 1947 Police Law.
The mission of the National Public Safety Commission is to guarantee the neutrality of the police by insulating the force from political pressure and to ensure the maintenance of democratic methods in police administration. The commission's primary function is to supervise the National Police Agency, and it has the authority to appoint or dismiss senior police officers. The commission consists of a chairman, who holds the rank of minister of state, and five members appointed by the prime minister with the consent of both houses of the Diet. The commission operates independently of the cabinet, but liaison and coordination with it are facilitated by the chairman's being a member of that body.
As the central coordinating body for the entire police system, the National Police Agency determines general standards and policies; detailed direction of operations is left to the lower echelons. In a national emergency or large-scale disaster, the agency is authorized to take command of prefectural police forces. In 1989 the agency was composed of about 1,100 national civil servants, empowered to collect information and to formulate and execute national policies. The agency is headed by a commissioner general who is appointed by the National Public Safety Commission with the approval of the prime minister. The central office includes the Secretariat, with divisions for general operations, planning, information, finance, management, and procurement and distribution of police equipment, and five bureaus. The Administration Bureau is concerned with police personnel, education, welfare, training, and unit inspections. The Criminal Investigation Bureau is in charge of research statistics and the investigation of nationally important and international cases. This bureau's Safety Department is responsible for crime prevention, combating juvenile delinquency, and pollution control. In addition, the Criminal Investigation Bureau surveyes, formulates, and recommends legislation on firearms, explosives, food, drugs, and narcotics. The Communications Bureau supervises police communications systems.
The Traffic Bureau licenses drivers, enforces traffic safety laws, and regulates traffic. Intensive traffic safety and driver education campaigns are run at both national and prefectural levels. The bureau's Expressway Division addresses special conditions of the nation's growing system of express highways.
The Security Bureau formulates and supervises the execution of security policies. It conducts research on equipment and tactics for suppressing riots and oversaw and coordinates activities of the riot police. The Security Bureau is also responsible for security intelligence on foreigners and radical political groups, including investigation of violations of the Alien Registration Law and administration of the Entry and Exit Control Law. The bureau also implements security policies during national emergencies and natural disasters.
The National Police Agency has seven regional police bureaus, each responsible for a number of prefectures. Metropolitan Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido are excluded from these regional jurisdictions and are run more autonomously than other local forces, in the case of Tokyo, because of its special urban situation, and of Hokkaido, because of its distinctive geography. The National Police Agency maintains police communications divisions in these two areas to handle any coordination needed between national and local forces.
There are some 258,000 police officers nationwide, about 97 percent of whom were affiliated with local police forces. Local forces include forty-three prefectural (ken) police forces; one metropolitan (to) police force, in Tokyo; two urban prefectural (fu) police forces, in Osaka and Kyoto; and one district (d ) police force, in Hokkaido. These forces have limited authority to initiate police actions. Their most important activities are regulated by the National Police Agency, which provides funds for equipment, salaries, riot control, escort, and natural disaster duties, and for internal security and multiple jurisdiction cases. National police statutes and regulations establish the strength and rank allocations of all local personnel and the locations of local police stations. Prefectural police finance and control the patrol officer on the beat, traffic control, criminal investigations, and other daily operations.
Each prefectural police headquarters contains administrative divisions corresponding to those of the bureaus of the National Police Agency. Headquarters are staffed by specialists in basic police functions and administration and are commanded by an officer appointed by the local office of the National Public Safety Commission. Most arrests and investigations are performed by prefectural police officials (and, in large jurisdictions, by police assigned to substations), who are assigned to one or more central locations within the prefecture. Experienced officers are organized into functional bureaus and handle all but the most ordinary problems in their fields.
Below these stations, police boxes (koban)--substations near major transportation hubs and shopping areas and in residential districts--form the first line of police response to the public. About 20 percent of the total police force is assigned to koban. Staffed by three or more officers working in eight-hour shifts, they serve as a base for foot patrols and usually have both sleeping and eating facilities for officers on duty but not on watch. In rural areas, residential offices usually are staffed by one police officer who resides in adjacent family quarters. These officers endeavor to become a part of the community, and their families often aid in performing official tasks.
Officers assigned to koban have intimate knowledge of their jurisdictions. One of their primary tasks is to conduct twice-yearly house-by-house residential surveys of homes in their areas, at which time the head of the household at each address fills out a residence information card detailing the names, ages, occupations, business addresses, and vehicle registration numbers of household occupants and the names of relatives living elsewhere. Police take special note of names of the aged or those living alone who might need special attention in an emergency. They conduct surveys of local businesses and record employee names and addresses, in addition to such data as which establishments stay open late and which employees might be expected to work late. Participation in the survey is voluntary, and most citizens cooperate, but an increasing segment of the population has come to regard the surveys as invasions of privacy.
Information elicited through the surveys is not centralized but is stored in each police box, where it is used primarily as an aid to locating people. When a crime occurs or an investigation is under way, however, these files are invaluable in establishing background data for a case. Specialists
Within their security divisions, each prefectural level police department and the Tokyo police maintain special riot units. These units were formed after riots at the Imperial Palace in 1952, to respond quickly and effectively to large public disturbances. They are also used in crowd control during festival periods, at times of natural disaster, and to reinforce regular police when necessary. Full-time riot police can also be augmented by regular police trained in riot duties.
In handling demonstrations and violent disturbances, riot units are deployed en masse, military style. It is common practice for files of riot police to line streets through which demonstrations passed. If demonstrators grows disorderly or deviated from officially countenanced areas, riot police stand shoulder-to- shoulder, sometimes three and four deep, to push with their hands to control the crowds. Individual action is forbidden. Three-person units sometimes perform reconnaissance duties, but more often operations are carried out by squads of nine to eleven, platoons of twenty-seven to thirty-three, and companies of eighty to one hundred. Front ranks are trained to open to allow passage of special squads to rescue captured police or to engage in tear gas assaults. Each person wears a radio with an earpiece to hear commands given simultaneously to the formation.
The riot police are committed to using disciplined, nonlethal force and carry no firearms. They are trained to take pride in their poise under stress. Demonstrators also are usually restrained. Police brutality is rarely an issue. When excesses occur, the perpetrator is disciplined and sometimes transferred from the force if considered unable to keep his temper.
Extensive experience in quelling violent disorders led to the development of special uniforms and equipment for the riot police units. Riot dress consists of a field-type jacket, which covered several pieces of body armor and includes a corselet hung from the waist, an aluminum plate down the backbone, and shoulder pads. Armored gauntlets cover the hands and forearms. Helmets have faceplates and flared padded skirts down the back to protect the neck. In case of violence, the front ranks carry 1.2-meter shields to protect against staves and rocks and hold nets on high poles to catch flying objects. Specially designed equipment includes water cannons, armored vans, and mobile tunnels for protected entry into seized buildings.
Because riot police duties require special group action, units are maintained in virtually self-sufficient compounds and trained to work as a coordinated force. The overwhelming majority of officers are bachelors who live in dormitories within riot police compounds. Training is constant and focuses on physical conditioning, mock battles, and tactical problems. A military atmosphere prevails--dress codes, behavior standards, and rank differentiations are more strictly adhered to than in the regular police. Esprit de corps is inculcated with regular ceremonies and institutionalization of rituals such as applauding personnel dispatched to or returning from assignments and formally welcoming senior officers to the mess hall at all meals.
Riot duty is not popular because it entails special sacrifices and much boredom in between irregularly spaced actions. Although many police are assigned riot duty, only a few are volunteers. For many personnel, riot duty serves as a stepping stone because of its reputation and the opportunities it presents to study for the advanced police examinations necessary for promotion. Because riot duties demands physical fitness--the armored uniform weighed 6.6 kilograms--most personnel are young, often serving in the units after an initial assignment in a koban.
In addition to regular police officers, there are several thousand officials attached to various agencies who perform special duties relating to public safety. They are responsible for such matters as railroad security, forest preservation, narcotics control, fishery inspection, and enforcement of regulations on maritime, labor, and mine safety.
The largest and most important of these ministry-supervised public safety agencies is the Maritime Safety Agency, an external bureau of the Ministry of Transportation that deals with crime in coastal waters and maintains facilities for safeguarding navigation. The agency operates a fleet of patrol and rescue craft in addition to a few aircraft used primarily for antismuggling patrols and rescue activities. In 1990 there were 2,846 incidents in and on the waters. In those incidents, 1,479 people drowned or were lost and 1,347 people were rescued.
There are other agencies having limited public safety functions. These agencies include the Labor Standards Inspection Office of the Ministry of Labor, railroad police of Japan Railways Group, immigration agents of the Ministry of Justice, postal inspectors of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, and revenue inspectors in the Ministry of Finance.
A small intelligence agency, the Public Security Investigation Office of the Ministry of Justice, handles national security matters both inside and outside the country. Its activities are not generally known to the public.
Despite legal limits on police jurisdiction, many citizens retain their views of the police as authority figures to whom they can turn for aid. The public often seeks police assistance to settle family quarrels, counsel juveniles, and mediate minor disputes. Citizens regularly consult police for directions to hotels and residences--an invaluable service in cities where streets are often unnamed and buildings are numbered in the order in which they have been built rather than consecutively. Police are encouraged by their superiors to view these tasks as answering the public's demands for service and as inspiring community confidence in the police. Public attitudes toward the police are generally favorable, although a series of incidents of forced confessions in the late 1980s raised some concern about police treatment of suspects held for pretrial detention.
Education is highly stressed in police recruitment and promotion. Entrance to the force is determined by examinations administered by each prefecture. Examinees are divided into two groups: upper-secondary-school graduates and university graduates. Recruits underwent rigorous training--one year for upper-secondary school graduates and six months for university graduates--at the residential police academy attached to the prefectural headquarters. On completion of basic training, most police officers are assigned to local police boxes. Promotion is achieved by examination and requires further course work. In-service training provides mandatory continuing education in more than 100 fields. Police officers with upper-secondary school diplomas are eligible to take the examination for sergeant after three years of on-the- job experience. University graduates can take the examination after only one year. University graduates are also eligible to take the examination for assistant police inspector, police inspector, and superintendent after shorter periods than upper-secondary school graduates. There are usually five to fifteen examinees for each opening.
About fifteen officers per year pass advanced civil service examinations and are admitted as senior officers. Officers are groomed for administrative positions, and, although some rise through the ranks to become senior administrators, most such positions are held by specially recruited senior executives.
The police forces are subject to external oversight. Although officials of the National Public Safety Commission generally defer to police decisions and rarely exercise their powers to check police actions or operations, police are liable for civil and criminal prosecution, and the media actively publicizes police misdeeds. The Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice solicits and investigates complaints against public officials, including police, and prefectural legislatures could summon police chiefs for questioning. Social sanctions and peer pressure also constrain police behavior. As in other occupational groups in Japan, police officers develop an allegiance to their own group and a reluctance to offend its principles.
Conditions of public order compare favorably with those in other industrialized countries. The overall crime rate is low by North American and West European standards and has shown a general decline since the mid-1960s. The incidence of violent crime is especially low, owing in part to effective enforcement of stringent firearms control laws. Problems of particular concern are those associated with a modern industralized nation, including juvenile delinquency, traffic control, and white-collar crime.
Civil disorders occurred beginning in the early 1950s, chiefly in Tokyo, but did not seriously threaten the internal security of the state. Far less frequent after the early 1970s, they were in all cases effectively countered by efficient and well-trained police units employing the most sophisticated techniques of riot control.
Japan's police are an apolitical body under the general supervision of independent agencies, free of direct central government executive control. They are checked by an independent judiciary and monitored by a free and active press. The police are generally well respected and can rely on considerable public cooperation in their work.
Officials involved in the criminal justice system are usually highly trained professionals interested in preventing crime and rehabilitating offenders. They are allowed considerable discretion in dealing with legal infractions and appear to deserve the trust and respect accorded to them by the general public. Constitutionally guaranteed rights of habeas corpus, protection against self-incrimination, and the inadmissability of confessions obtained under duress are enforced by criminal procedures.
The self-defense forces are responsible for external security and have limited domestic security responsibilities. The well-organized and disciplined police force was effectively under the control of the civilian authorities. However, there continued to be credible reports that police committed some human rights abuses.
The Constitution provides for freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Penal Code prohibits violence and cruelty toward suspects under criminal investigation; however, reports by several bar associations, human rights groups, and some prisoners indicated that police and prison officials sometimes used physical violence, including kicking and beating, as well as psychological intimidation, to obtain confessions from suspects in custody or to enforce discipline. Unlike in 2000, there were no allegations of beatings of detainees by employees of private security companies that operated immigration detention facilities at Narita International Airport. The 2000 revision of the National Police Law permits persons to lodge complaints against the police with national and local public safety commissions. These commissions may direct the police to conduct investigations. However, public confidence in this system remained low, and allegations that the police and the public safety commissions remained lax in investigating charges of police misconduct persisted.
Constitutional provisions for freedom from arbitrary arrest or imprisonment generally are respected in practice. The law provides for judicial determination of the legality of detention. Persons may not be detained without charge, and prosecuting authorities must be prepared to demonstrate before trial that probable cause exists in order to detain the accused. Under the law, a suspect may be held in detention at either a regular detention facility or "substitute" (police) detention facility for up to 72 hours. A judge interviewed suspects prior to detention. A judge may extend preindictment custody by up to two consecutive 10-day periods based on a prosecutor's application. These extensions were sought and granted routinely. Under extraordinary circumstances, prosecutors may seek an additional 5-day extension, bringing the maximum period of preindictment custody to 25 days.
In 1999 the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the section of the Criminal Procedure Code under which police and prosecutors have the power to control and may limit access by legal counsel when deemed necessary for the sake of an investigation. Counsel may not be present during interrogations at any time before or after indictment. As a court-appointed attorney is not approved until after indictment, suspects must rely on their own resources to hire an attorney before indictment, although local bar associations provide detainees with limited free counseling. Critics charge that access to counsel is limited both in duration and frequency; the Government denies that this is the case. In 2000 presentencing bail was available in roughly 13 percent of cases.
Bar associations and human rights groups have criticized the use of a "substitute prison system" for prisoners awaiting court hearings. Although the law stipulates that suspects should be held in "houses of detention" between arrest and sentencing, a police detention facility may be substituted at the order of the court. This provision originally was added to cover a shortage of normal detention facilities. According to year-end Ministry of Justice data, normal prison facilities were filled to 104 percent of capacity in 2000, a 9.1 percent increase over 1999. Approximately 30 percent of normal detention facilities suffered from overcrowding in 2000. Critics charged that allowing suspects to be detained by the same authorities who interrogated them heightens the potential for abuse and coercion. The Government countered that cases sent to police detention facilities tend to be those where the facts were not in dispute. A Justice Ministry regulation permits detention house officials to limit the amount of documentation related to ongoing court cases retained by prisoners.
The length of time before a suspect is brought to trial depends on the nature of the crime but rarely exceeds 3 months from the date of arrest; the average is 1 to 2 months. In one case, an accused allegedly was held for 3 years. In March in its final report, an advisory panel to the Prime Minister on judicial reform called for a substantial increase in judges, prosecutors, and Justice Ministry personnel to shorten the time between arrest and trial.
The law does not permit forced exile, and it is not used.
Japanís legal system is modeled after European civil law system with English-American influence. Judicial review of legislative acts occurs in the Supreme Court.
In contrast to the prewar system, in which executive bodies had much control over the courts, the postwar constitution guarantees that "all judges shall be independent in the exercise of their conscience and shall be bound only by this constitution and the Laws" (Article 76). They cannot be removed from the bench "unless judicially declared mentally or physically incompetent to perform official duties," and they cannot be disciplined by executive agencies (Article 78). A Supreme Court justice, however, may be removed by a majority of voters in a referendum that occurs at the first general election following the justice's appointment and every ten years thereafter. As of the early 1990s, however, the electorate had not used this unusual system to dismiss a justice.
The Supreme Court, the highest court, is the final court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. The constitution's Article 81 designates it "the court of last resort with power to determine the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation, or official act." The Supreme Court is also responsible for nominating judges to lower courts, determining judicial procedures, overseeing the judicial system, including the activities of public prosecutors, and disciplining judges and other judicial personnel. It renders decisions from either a grand bench of fifteen justices or a petit bench of five. The grand bench is required for cases involving constitutionality. The court includes twenty research clerks, whose function is similar to that of the clerks of the United States Supreme Court.
The judicial system is unitary: there is no independent system of prefectural level courts equivalent to the state courts of the United States. Below the Supreme Court, the Japanese system included eight high courts, fifty district courts, and fifty family courts in the late 1980s. Four of each of the last two types of courts were located in Hokkaido, and one of each in the remaining forty-six rural prefectures, urban prefectures, and the Tokyo Metropolitan District. Summary courts, located in 575 cities and towns in the late 1980s, performed the functions of small courts and justices of the peace in the United States, having jurisdiction over minor offenses and civil cases.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the judiciary generally is independent and free from executive branch interference. The Cabinet appoints judges for 10-year terms, which can be renewed until judges reach the age of 65. Justices of the Supreme Court can serve until the age of 70 but face periodic review through popular referendums.
There are several levels of courts, including high courts, district courts, family courts, and summary courts, with the Supreme Court serving as the final court of appeal. Normally a trial begins at the district court level, and a verdict may be appealed to a higher court, and ultimately, to the Supreme Court.
The Government generally respects in practice the constitutional provisions for the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial tribunal in all criminal cases. Although most criminal trials are completed within a reasonable length of time, cases may take several years to work their way through the trial and appeals process. Responding to the final report of a Government advisory panel established in 1999 to outline structural reforms to the judicial system, in June the Government announced plans to begin drafting legislation aimed at reducing the average time required to complete criminal trials and civil trials that include witness examination (which lasted an average of 20.5 months in 1999). Its proposals included hiring substantial numbers of additional court and Justice Ministry personnel, revising bar examinations, establishing new graduate law schools to increase the overall number of legal professionals (judges, lawyers, and prosecutors) three-fold by 2010, and requiring that courts and opposing litigants jointly work to improve trial planning by allowing for earlier evidence collection and disclosure. In the complex case of the Aum Shinrikyo 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, the trials of seven senior members of the group were still underway in district courts at year's end.
The nation's criminal justice officials follows specified legal procedures in dealing with offenders. Once a suspect is arrested by national or prefectural police, the case is turned over to attorneys in the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, who are the government's sole agents in prosecuting lawbreakers. Although under the Ministry of Justice's administration, these officials work under Supreme Court rules and are career civil servants who can be removed from office only for incompetence or impropriety. Prosecutors presented the government's case before judges in the Supreme Court and the four types of lower courts: high courts, district courts, summary courts, and family courts. Penal and probation officials administer programs for convicted offenders under the direction of public prosecutors.
After identifying a suspect, police have the authority to exercise some discretion in determining the next step. If, in cases pertaining to theft, the amount is small or already returned, the offense petty, the victim unwilling to press charges, the act accidental, or the likelihood of a repetition not great, the police can either drop the case or turn it over to a prosecutor. Reflecting the belief that appropriate remedies are sometimes best found outside the formal criminal justice mechanisms, in 1990 over 70 percent of criminal cases were not sent to the prosecutor.
Police also exercise wide discretion in matters concerning juveniles. Police are instructed by law to identify and counsel minors who appear likely to commit crimes, and they can refer juvenile offenders and nonoffenders alike to child guidance centers to be treated on an outpatient basis. Police can also assign juveniles or those considered to be harming the welfare of juveniles to special family courts. These courts were established in 1949 in the belief that the adjustment of a family's situation is sometimes required to protect children and prevent juvenile delinquency. Family courts are run in closed sessions, try juvenile offenders under special laws, and operate extensive probationary guidance programs. The cases of young people between the ages of fourteen and twenty can, at the judgment of police, be sent to the public prosecutor for possible trial as adults before a judge under the general criminal law.
Safeguards protect the suspects' rights. Police have to secure warrants to search for or seize evidence. A warrant is also necessary for an arrest, although if the crime is very serious or the perpetrator likely to flee, it can be obtained immediately after arrest. Within forty-eight hours after placing a suspect under detention, the police have to present their case before a prosecutor, who is then required to apprise the accused of the charges and of the right to counsel. Within another twenty-four hours, the prosecutor has to go before a judge and present a case to obtain a detention order. Suspects can be held for ten days (extensions were granted in special cases), pending an investigation and a decision whether or not to prosecute. In the 1980s, some suspects were reported to have been mistreated during this detention to exact a confession.
Prosecution can be denied on the grounds of insufficient evidence or on the prosecutor's judgment. Under Article 248 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, after weighing the offender's age, character, and environment, the circumstances and gravity of the crime, and the accused's rehabilitative potential, public action does not have to be instituted, but can be denied or suspended and ultimately dropped after a probationary period. Because the investigation and disposition of a case can occur behind closed doors and the identity of an accused person who is not prosecuted is rarely made public, an offender can successfully reenter society and be rehabilitated under probationary status without the stigma of a criminal conviction.
Institutional safeguards check the prosecutors' discretionary powers not to prosecute. Lay committees are established in conjunction with branch courts to hold inquests on a prosecutor's decisions. These committees meet four times yearly and can order that a case be reinvestigated and prosecuted. Victims or interested parties can also appeal a decision not to prosecute.
Most offenses are tried first in district courts before one or three judges, depending on the severity of the case. Defendants are protected from self-incrimination, forced confession, and unrestricted admission of hearsay evidence. In addition, defendants have the right to counsel, public trial, and cross-examination. Trial by jury was authorized by the 1923 Jury Law but was suspended in 1943. It had not been reinstated as of 1993, chiefly owing to defendants' distrust of jurors, who were believed to be emotional and easily influenced, and the generally greater public confidence in the competence of judges.
The judge conducts the trial and is authorized to question witnesses, independently call for evidence, decide guilt, and affix a sentence. The judge can also suspend any sentence or place a convicted party on probation. Should a judgment of not guilty be rendered, the accused is entitled to compensation by the state based on the number of days spent in detention.
Criminal cases from summary courts, family courts, and district courts can be appealed to the high courts by both the prosecution and the defense. Criminal appeal to the Supreme Court is limited to constitutional questions and a conflict of precedent between the Supreme Court and high courts.
The criminal code sets minimum and maximum sentences for offenses to allow for the varying circumstances of each crime and criminal. Penalties range from fines and short-term incarceration to compulsory labor and the death penalty. Heavier penalties are meted out to repeat offenders. Capital punishment consist of death by hanging and can be imposed on those convicted of leading an insurrection, inducing or aiding foreign armed aggression, arson, or homicide.
As in other industrialized countries, law plays a central role in Japanese political, social, and economic life. Fundamental differences between Japanese and Western legal concepts, however, have often led Westerners to believe that Japanese society is based more on quasi-feudalistic principles of paternalism (the oyabun-kobun relationship) and social harmony, or wa. Japan has a relatively small number of lawyers, about 13,000 practicing in the mid-1980s, compared with 667,000 in the United States, a country with only twice Japan's population. This fact has been offered as evidence that the Japanese are strongly averse to upsetting human relationships by taking grievances to court. In cases of liability, such as the crash of a Japan Airlines jetliner in August 1985, which claimed 520 lives, Japanese victims or their survivors were more willing than their Western counterparts would be to accept the ritualistic condolences of company presidents (including officials' resignations over the incident) and nonjudicially determined compensation, which in many cases was less than they might have received through the courts.
Factors other than a cultural preference for social harmony, however, explain the court-shy behavior of the Japanese. The Ministry of Justice closely screens university law faculty graduates and others who wish to practice law or serve as judges. Only about 2 percent of the approximately 25,000 persons who applied annually to the Ministry's Legal Training and Research Institute two-year required course were admitted in the late 1980s. The institute graduates only a few hundred new lawyers each year. Plagued by shortages of attorneys, judges, clerks, and other personnel, the court system is severely overburdened. Presiding judges often strongly advise plaintiffs to seek out-of-court settlements. The progress of cases through even the lower courts is agonizingly slow, and appeals carried to the Supreme Court can take decades. Faced with such obstacles, most individuals choose not to seek legal remedies. If legal personnel are dramatically increased, which seems unlikely, use of the courts might approach rates found in the United States and other Western countries.
In the English-speaking countries, law has been viewed traditionally as a framework of enforceable rights and duties designed to protect the legitimate interests of private citizens. The judiciary is viewed as occupying a neutral stance in disputes between individual citizens and the state. Legal recourse is regarded as a fundamental civil right. The reformers of the Meiji era (1868-1912), however, were strongly influenced by legal theories that had evolved in Germany and other continental European states. The Meiji reformers viewed the law primarily as an instrument through which the state controls a restive population and directs energies to achieving the goals of fukoku kyohei (wealth and arms).
The primary embodiment of the spirit of the law in modern Japan has not been the attorney representing private interests but the bureaucrat who exercises control through what sociologist Max Weber has called "legal-rational" methods of administration. Competence in law, acquired through university training, consists of implementing, interpreting, and, at the highest levels, formulating law within a bureaucratic framework. Many functions performed by lawyers in the United States and other Western countries are the responsibility of civil servants in Japan. The majority of the country's ruling elite, both political and economic, has been recruited from among the graduates of the Law Faculty of the University of Tokyo and other prestigious institutions, people who have rarely served as private attorneys.
Legal and bureaucratic controls on many aspects of Japanese society were extremely tight. The Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, for example, closely supervised both public and private universities. Changes in undergraduate or graduate curricula, the appointment of senior faculty, and similar actions required ministry approval in conformity with very detailed regulations. Although this "control-oriented" use of law did not inhibit the freedom of teaching or research (protected by Article 23 of the constitution), it severely limited the universities' scope for reform and innovation. Controls were even tighter on primary and secondary schools.
There is no trial by jury. The defendant is informed of the charges upon arrest and is assured a public trial by an independent civilian court with defense counsel and the right of cross-examination. However, in June the Government's Judicial Reform Council recommended in its final report that randomly chosen members of the public be allowed to participate in determining rulings and penalties in criminal trials by deliberating the cases alongside professional judges. The Government submitted implementing legislation to the Diet in November with the aim of adopting all of the advisory panel's reform proposals by 2004; it was enacted in December.
A defendant is presumed innocent. The Constitution provides defendants with the right not to be compelled to testify against themselves as well as to free and private access to counsel; however, the Government contended that the right to consult with attorneys is not absolute and can be restricted if such restriction is compatible with the spirit of the Constitution. Access sometimes was abridged in practice; for example, the law allows prosecutors to control access to counsel before indictment, and there are allegations of coerced confessions. Defendants are protected from the retroactive application of laws and have the right of access to incriminating evidence after a formal indictment has been made. However, the law does not require full disclosure by prosecutors, and material that the prosecution does not use in court may be suppressed. Critics claimed that legal representatives of defendants do not always have access to all needed relevant material in the police record to prepare their defense. A defendant who was dissatisfied with the decision of a trial court of first instance may, within the period prescribed by law, appeal to a higher court.
No guidelines mandate the acceptable quality of communications between judges, lawyers, and non-Japanese speaking defendants, although the Supreme Court publishes handbooks explaining the legal procedures and terms for court interpreters. In 2000 the Supreme Court introduced a training system to help court interpreters understand complicated trial procedures. However, no standard licensing or qualification system for certifying court interpreters exists, and a trial may proceed even if the accused does not understand what is happening or being said. The Supreme Court's 1998 statistics show a chronic shortage of qualified court interpreters, particularly for non-English speaking defendants. Foreign detainees frequently claim that police urged them to sign statements in Japanese that they cannot read and that are not translated adequately.
The Constitution provides for freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Penal Code prohibits violence and cruelty toward suspects under criminal investigation; however, reports by several bar associations, human rights groups, and some prisoners indicate that police and prison officials sometimes used physical violence, including kicking and beating, as well as psychological intimidation, to obtain confessions from suspects in custody or to enforce discipline. Unlike in 2000, there were no allegations of beatings of detainees by employees of private security companies that operated immigration detention facilities at Narita International Airport. A revised National Police Law passed by the Diet in 2000 in response to a series of internal police allegations of misconduct, corruption, and bullying went into effect in February. The new law allows individuals to lodge complaints against the police with national and local public safety commissions. These commissions may direct the police to conduct investigations. However, public confidence remained low, and allegations persisted that the police and public safety commissions remained lax in investigating charges of police misconduct.
The Constitution and the Criminal Code include safeguards to ensure that no criminal suspect can be compelled to make a self-incriminating confession, nor convicted or punished in cases where the only evidence against the accused is his own confession. The appellate courts have overturned some convictions in recent years on the grounds that they were obtained as a result of coerced confessions. In addition civil and criminal suits alleging abuse during interrogation and detention have been brought against some police and prosecution officials.
About 90 percent of all criminal cases going to trial included confessions, reflecting the priority the judicial system placed on admissions of guilt. The Government points out that the high percentage of confessions, like the high conviction rate, is reflective of a higher standard of evidence needed to bring about indictment in the judicial system. Confession is regarded as the first step in the rehabilitative process.
Physical restraints, such as leather handcuffs, continued to be used as a form of punishment, and some prisoners have been forced to eat and relieve themselves unassisted while wearing these restraints. Ministry of Justice officials stated that restraints were used inside prisons only when prisoners have been violent and posed a threat to themselves and others, or when there was concern that a prisoner might attempt to escape. In June the Tokyo District Court ordered the Government to pay $10,000 (1 million yen) in damages to a prisoner for being confined in handcuffs for prolonged periods of isolation at a Tokyo immigration detention facility in 1994. The Court ruled that manacling the man's hand behind him and detaining him in isolation for long periods was unlawful.
Prisons, in existence in some feudal domains as early as the late sixteenth century, originally functioned to hold people for trial or prior to execution. Because of the costs and difficulties involved in long-term incarceration and the prevailing standards of justice that called for sentences of death or exile for serious crimes, life imprisonment was rare. Facilities were used sometimes for shorter confinement. Prisoners were treated according to their social status and housed in barracks-like quarters. In some cases, the position of prison officer was hereditary, and staff vacancies were filled by relatives.
During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the country adopted Western-style penology along with systems of law and legal administration. In 1888 an aftercare hostel (halfway house) was opened for released prisoners. Staffed mainly by volunteers, this institution helped ex-convicts reenter society. Many ex-convicts had been ostracized by their families for the shame they had incurred and had literally nowhere to go. The Prison Law of 1908 provided basic rules and regulations for prison administration, stipulating separate facilities for those sentenced to confinement with and without labor and for those detained for trial and short sentences.
The Juvenile Law of 1922 established administrative organs to handle offenders under the age of eighteen and recognized volunteer workers officially as the major forces in the community-based treatment of juveniles. After World War II, juvenile laws were revised to extend their jurisdiction to those under the age of twenty. Volunteer workers were reorganized under a new law and remain an indispensable part of the rehabilitation system.
The Correctional Bureau of the Ministry of Justice administers the adult prison system as well as the juvenile correctional system and three women's guidance homes (to rehabilitate prostitutes). The ministry's Rehabilitation Bureau operates the probation and parole systems. Prison personnel are trained at an institute in Tokyo and in branch training institutes in each of the eight regional correctional headquarters under the Correctional Bureau. Professional probation officers study at the Legal Training and Research Institute of the Ministry of Justice.
In 1990 Japan's prison population stood at somewhat less than 47,000; nearly 7,000 were in short-term detention centers, and the remaining 40,000 were in prisons. Approximately 46 percent were repeat offenders. Japanese recidivism was attributed mainly to the discretionary powers of police, prosecutors, and courts and to the tendency to seek alternative sentences for first offenders.
The penal system is intended to resocialize, reform, and rehabilitate offenders. On confinement, prisoners are first classified according to gender, nationality, kind of penalty, length of sentence, degree of criminality, and state of physical and mental health. They are then placed in special programs designed to treat individual needs. Vocational and formal education are emphasized, as is instruction in social values. Most convicts engage in labor, for which a small stipend is set aside for use on release. Under a system stressing incentives, prisoners are initially assigned to community cells, then earn better quarters and additional privileges based on their good behavior.
Although a few juvenile offenders are handled under the general penal system, most are treated in separate juvenile training schools. More lenient than the penal institutions, these facilities provide correctional education and regular schooling for delinquents under the age of twenty.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the government's responsibility for social order does not end with imprisoning an offender, but also extends to aftercare treatment and to noninstitutional treatment to substitute for or supplement prison terms. A large number of those given suspended sentences are released to the supervision of volunteer officers under the guidance of professional probation officers. Adults are usually placed on probation for a fixed period, and juveniles are placed on probation until they reach the age of twenty. Volunteers are also used in supervising parolees, although professional probation officers generally supervise offenders considered to have a high risk of recidivism. Volunteers hail from all walks of life and handle no more than five cases at one time. They are responsible for overseeing the offenders' conduct to prevent the occurrence of further offenses. Volunteer probation officers also offer guidance and assistance to the ex-convict in assuming a law-abiding place in the community. Although volunteers are sometimes criticized for being too old compared with their charges (more than 70 percent are retired and are age fifty-five or over) and thus unable to understand the problems their charges faced, most authorities believe that the volunteers are critically important in the nation's criminal justice system.
Public support and cooperation with law enforcement officials help hold down Japan's crime rate, with little or no threat to internal security. The external security threat in the is also considerably reduced from previous years. The Japanese government is confident that diplomatic activity and a limited SDF, backed by United States treaty commitments, will be sufficient to deter any potential adversary.
Today, prison conditions meet international standards; however, the National Police Agency and Ministry of Justice reported that some prisons and detention facilities were overcrowded during the year. Prisons in most areas of the country were not heated, and prisoners were given only minimal additional clothing to protect themselves against cold weather. There have been cases of frostbite among the prison population in recent years. The Ministry of Justice requested funding in August as part of a 3-year plan to install heaters in prison buildings nationwide. Individual cells will remain unheated. Prisoners may not purchase or be given supplementary food. They were discouraged strongly from complaining about conditions. Prisoners faced severe restrictions on the quantity of their incoming and outgoing correspondence. The authorities read letters to and from prisoners, and the letters may be censored, or, with a court order, confiscated. All visits with convicted prisoners were monitored; however, those whose cases are pending were allowed private access to their legal representatives. Prison officials claimed that the "no complaining" policy was designed to keep family members from worrying about their relatives. For the same reason, the Justice Ministry usually does not inform a condemned inmate's family prior to the person's execution. Human rights organizations reported that lawyers also were not told of an execution until after the fact, and that death row prisoners were held for years in solitary confinement with little contact with anyone but prison guards. Parole may not be granted for any reason, including medical and humanitarian, until an inmate has served two-thirds of his or her sentence.
In the past, the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations and human rights groups have criticized the prison system, with its emphasis on strict discipline and obedience to numerous rules. Prison rules remain confidential. Wardens continued to have broad leeway in enforcing punishments selectively, including "minor solitary confinement," which may be imposed for a minimum of 1 and not more than 60 days in which the prisoner is made to sit (for foreigners) or kneel (for Japanese) motionless in the middle of an empty cell.
Women and juveniles are housed in separate facilities from men; at times during the year, some women's detention facilities also were operating over stated capacity. Pre-trial detainees also are held separately from convicted prisoners. Conditions in immigration detention facilities meet most international standards.
According to year-end Ministry of Justice data, normal prison facilities were filled to 103 percent of capacity in 2001. Nongovernmental organization (NGO) and press sources indicated that this overcrowding was a contributing factor in the 6,373 reported violent incidents in prisons in 2001, a 1.6 fold increase in incidents since 1996.
In the past, the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations and human rights groups have criticized the prison system, with its emphasis on strict discipline and obedience to numerous rules. Prison rules remained confidential. Wardens continued to have broad leeway in enforcing punishments selectively, including "minor solitary confinement," which may be imposed for a minimum of 1 and not more than 60 days in which the prisoner is made to sit (for foreigners) or kneel (for citizens) motionless in the middle of an empty cell.
Violence against women, particularly domestic violence, often goes unreported due to social and cultural concerns about shaming one's family or endangering the reputation of one's spouse or offspring. Also, women who are victims of domestic violence typically return to the home of their parents rather than file reports with the authorities. Therefore, National Police Agency statistics on violence against women probably understated the magnitude of the problem. According to the Health Ministry, 9,176 consultations on domestic violence were handled at 47 women's counseling centers in the year ending March 31. The National Police Agency reported 1,096 injuries or killings due to domestic violence in 2000, a 50 percent increase over 1999. In April the Diet passed a new law to combat domestic violence which allows district courts to impose 6-month restraining orders on perpetrators and sentence violators to up to 1 year in prison or fines of up to $7,910 (1 million yen). In addition the law, which came into effect in October, also covers common-law marriages and divorced individuals; it also encourages prefectures to expand shelter facilities for domestic abuse victims and stipulates that local governments offer financial assistance to 40 private institutions already operating such shelters. In December police in Kanagawa Prefecture arrested a man for violating a restraining order, which had been issued under the new law in November. According to National Police Agency statistics, 2,228 rapes and 9,326 indecent assaults were reported during the year. Husbands have been prosecuted for spousal rape; usually these cases involved a third party who assisted in the rape. The National Police Agency confirmed three cases of spousal rape during the year.
Many local governments were responding positively to a need for confidential assistance by establishing special women's consultation departments in police and prefectural offices. An antistalking law went into effect in November 2000 in response to rising complaints about women's lack of recourse in dealing with stalkers. Through June police received 9,142 stalking complaints; they arrested 66 persons and issued 453 warnings between November 2000 and May.
Local governments and private rail operators continued to implement measures designed to address the widespread problem of groping and molestation of female commuters. According to the National Police Agency, in 2000 police arrested 1,854 persons in Tokyo and 982 persons elsewhere in the country for groping. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police organized a council with representatives of train companies to discuss antigroping measures in June. As a result, several railway companies started a poster campaign to raise awareness of antigroping ordinances and to advertise railway police contact information, including contact information for the molestation complaint offices established by the Metropolitan Police Department in 1995. At the suggestion of the Metropolitan Police, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly also revised its antigroping ordinance in September to make first-time offenders subject to imprisonment. In March Keio Electric Railway Company decided to make a trial women-only rail car program permanent, reserving one car only for women on all express and limited express trains running after 11 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Trafficking in women was a problem in year 2001. The Constitution and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Law prohibit sexual discrimination; however, sexual harassment in the workplace remains widespread. A National Personnel Authority survey of female public servants conducted in 2000 found that 69.2 percent of all female respondents believe they have been subjected to acts that constitute sexual harassment. The National Personnel Authority established workplace rules in April 1999 in an effort to stop harassment in public servants' workplaces. New survey data indicates that the most severe forms of sexual harassment may be declining in government workplaces; female public servants who stated that their bosses had pressured them into a sexual relationship dropped from 17 percent in 1997 to 2.2 percent in 2000. In 1999 a revision to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Law intended to address problems of sexual harassment and discrimination against women went into effect. The revised EEO Law includes measures to identify companies that fail to prevent sexual harassment, although it does not include punitive measures to enforce compliance; the law's only penalty is that names of companies that practice sexual discrimination can be publicized. The Ministry of Labor does not enforce compliance through fines or other punitive penalties. However, since the 1999 revision, there has been a 35 percent increase in consultations over workplace sexual harassment cases. Under the Labor Standards Law, an arbitration committee is allowed to initiate procedures to help ensure the rights of female workers at the worker's request, without first having to obtain approval from both management and the worker's union. A number of government entities have established hot lines and designated ombudsmen to handle complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.
The Labor Standards Law forbids wage discrimination against women. Under the revised EEO Law, women may work overtime shifts. Women make up 40 percent of the labor force, and women between the ages of 15 and 64 have a labor force participation rate of 51 percent. In response to a 2000 Government survey that revealed that potential employers had discriminated against one in five women entering the work force on the basis of gender, in April the Labor Ministry distributed 100,000 manuals outlining 25 hiring or recruiting practices that violated the EEO law. Although the Labor Standards and the EEO laws prohibit wage discrimination against women, in 2000 female workers on average earned only 65.5 percent of average male earnings. In general younger women (age 20-24) tended to make almost as much as men do; older women (50 and older) tended to make much less. Much of this disparity results from the "two-track" personnel administration system found in most larger companies under which new hires are put into one of two categories: Managerial track (those engaged in planning and decisionmaking jobs and with the potential to become top executives); or general track (those engaged in general office work). According to a 1998 survey by the Management and Coordination Agency, women held 9.2 percent of managerial positions. A 1998 Labor Ministry survey found that over half of the companies with a two-track personnel system did not even consider women for managerial track positions. In March the Osaka District Court dismissed a wage bias suit filed by female employees of Sumitomo Chemical Company who had been placed in a nonmanagerial career track in 1970 when the company introduced a dual-track system. However, in August the Tokyo District High Court ruled against conventional wage compensation assessment methods that used exisiting gender income disparities to determine future earnings potential in the case of minors. According to the Prime Minister's Bureau of Gender Equality, women held 4.1 percent of top local government positions through March, although they make up as much as a third of all local government workers. According to the Home Ministry, some of the 4,200 local governments that urged employees to retire before the mandatory age of 60 regularly urged female employees to retire at younger ages than male employees. In January a Kanazawa District Court found the town government of Toriya in violation of the Local Civil Service Law and ordered it to pay redress to a female civil servant who refused to retire when asked to do so in 1996. The town's retirement system urged female employees to retire at 48 and males at 58.
In addition to discrimination, the traditional male and female division of labor at home places disproportionate burdens on working women, who were still responsible for almost all child care and household duties.
Advocacy groups for women and persons with disabilities continued to press for a government investigation into sterilization cases that were carried out between 1949-92, a formal government apology, and compensation.
In 1993 the Government publicly acknowledged and apologized for the former Imperial Government's involvement in the army's practice of forcing as many as 200,000 women (including Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Indonesians, Dutch, and Japanese) to provide sex to soldiers between 1932-45. A 1999 U.N. Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities report included a recommendation that the Government provide state compensation to former "comfort women" and prosecute those responsible for setting up and operating "comfort stations" during World War II. The Government has been unwilling to pay direct compensation to individual victims, on the grounds that postwar treaties settled all war claims. In March the Hiroshima High Court reversed a 1998 Yamaguchi District Court ruling that had ordered the Government to pay $2,542 (300,000 yen) in state compensation to three Korean former comfort women for neglecting its constitutional duty to enact compensation legislation following the Government's 1993 admission. The District Court ruling had been the first court judgment rendered in favor of foreign war victims. Over 50 damage suits have been filed in Japanese courts; approximately 10 cases were pending at year's end. In October a U.S. federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by 15 comfort women, ruling that U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction over claims arising from Japan's wartime conduct.
The "Asian Women's Fund" (AWF) is a private, government-sponsored fund established to "extend atonement and support" to former comfort women. The AWF supports three types of projects: Payments to individual victims; medical and welfare assistance to individual comfort women; and funding projects to improve the general status of women and girls. Projects in the first category were funded by private donations, while the second and third types of projects were financed by the Government and administered by the AWF. As of November 21, the AWF had collected donations totaling approximately $4.33 million (548 million yen) and given lump sum payments of almost $2.97 million (376 million yen) and a letter of apology signed by the Prime Minister to more than 188 women from the Philippines, Korea, and Taiwan. These women also received medical and welfare assistance from the AWF. The AWF has reached an agreement with a Dutch affiliate to make compensation payments to former Dutch comfort women; government officials estimate that up to 100 Dutch women were forced to provide sexual services during World War II. However, the Government's refusal to pay direct compensation continues to draw international criticism.
The Government is committed to children's rights and welfare, and in general the rights of children were protected adequately. Boys and girls have equal access to health care and other public services. Education was free and compulsory through the lower secondary level (age 14, or ninth grade). Education is available widely to students who meet minimum academic standards at the upper secondary level through the age of 18. Society places an extremely high value on education, and enrollment levels for both boys and girls through the free upper secondary level (to age 18) exceed 96 percent.
Public attention is focused increasingly on reports of frequent child abuse in the home. In 2000 the Diet enacted a law granting child welfare officials the authority to prohibit abusive parents from meeting or communicating with their children. This law raised public awareness of the problem of child abuse. The law also bans abuse under the guise of discipline and obliges teachers, doctors, and welfare officials to report any suspicious circumstances to the 174 local child counseling centers located nationwide or to municipal welfare centers. According to the National Police Agency, through June 31 children died of abuse or neglect. Through March police investigated 51 cases of child abuse, in which 20 adults were arrested, an increase of 30.8 percent over the previous year for the same period. From April 2000 through March, family courts mandated the transfer of 6,168 children into protective state custody. Child protection centers also received 18,800 reports of abuse in the year ending in April, an increase of 17 percent since 1990. A 1999 report by the Ministry of Health and Welfare warned that, since caseloads at counseling centers nearly doubled from 1988-96, cuts in funding by local governments to centers handling child abuse cases were exacerbating the problem. In August the Ministry conducted a nationwide survey of how municipal governments responded to abuse cases with the aim of increasing subsidies to local governments to develop child abuse prevention networks. In November the Government announced its intention to rehire counselors dismissed from child protection centers in recent years. Also in November, the Tokyo chapter of the Japan Legal Aid Fund established a $237,285 (30 million yen) fund to provide free legal services to children in family court protective custody hearings.
Incidents of student-on-student violence in schools and severe bullying ("ijime") also continued to be a societal and government concern. At elementary and junior high schools, bullying most often involved verbal abuse, with physical abuse occurring more often at the high school level. An Education Ministry survey released in August reported 20,751 cases of student-on-student violence in public schools during the 2000-01 academic year, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. In past years, surveys have suggested that as many as one in three elementary and junior high school students had been bullied, but more than one-third of the victims did not report the bullying. In addition to compiling statistics on bullying and consulting with various groups concerned with children's welfare, the Ministry of Justice's Office of the Ombudsman for Children's Rights provided counseling services for children 18 years of age and younger who have been victims of bullying. In December the Fukuoka District Court ruled that the Jojima Municipal and Fukuoka Prefectural governments had not taken sufficient action in the case of a boy who committed suicide in 1996 after being harassed and beaten by classmates and ordered the governments to pay $79,095 (10 million yen) in compensation to the boy's parents. Teachers also increasingly are becoming the targets of student violence. Education Ministry statistics for 2000 showed a 16.2 percent increase in assaults on teachers by students over the previous year.
In previous years, both the Government and society in general appeared to take a lenient attitude toward teenage prostitution and dating for money (which may or may not have involved sexual activity). However, in 1999 the Diet passed a law banning sex with persons under age 18 as well as the production, sale, or distribution of child pornography. The law was passed following heightened public attention to a growing problem of teenage prostitution and international criticism over the country's lax laws on child pornography. The law has reduced the open availability of child pornography. Whereas in 1998 INTERPOL estimated that 80 percent of Internet sites with child pornography originated in Japan, by late 1999, after passage of the law, the police reported most of these sites either had disappeared entirely or were accessible only at random hours to avoid detection and arrest. Since April 1999, operators of pornographic home pages and suppliers of pornographic images have been required to register with local safety commissions and not to offer such pages to persons under the age of 18. According to the National Police Agency, the police arrested 108 persons between January and June for patronizing teenage prostitutes and child pornography, double the number for the same period in 2000. However, teenage prostitution and dating for money continues to be a concern. In one high profile case, in August the Tokyo District Court sentenced a Tokyo High Court judge to a 2-year suspended sentence for patronizing a teenage prostitute. In impeachment proceedings concluded in November, he lost his certificate as an officer of the court and was barred from requesting reinstatement for 5 years. In December the Government hosted an international conference on combating sexual exploitation of children.
In February 2001, revisions to the Juvenile Law went into effect that lowered the age at which children can be held criminally responsible for their actions from 16 to 14. Under juvenile law, juvenile suspects are tried in family court and have the right of appeal to an appellate court. Family court proceedings were not open to the public, a policy that has been criticized by family members of juvenile crime victims. The number of juveniles arrested and sent to prosecutors was down 6.6 percent in 2000, according to the National Police Agency.
In 2000 the Tokyo prefectural government put into effect programs to protect the welfare of stateless children, whose births their illegal immigrant mothers refused to register for fear of forcible repatriation. According to Justice Ministry statistics, 720 stateless minors under the age of 5 were in the country in 2000.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The Constitution prohibits holding persons in bondage, and the Penal Code contains several provisions that could be used to combat trafficking of persons; however, there are no specific laws that prohibit trafficking in persons, and trafficking of women and girls into the country was a problem. Women and girls, primarily from Thailand, the Philippines, and the former Soviet Union, were trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women and girls from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Malaysia, Burma, and Indonesia also were trafficked into the country in smaller numbers. Japan also was a destination for illegal immigrants from China who were trafficked by organized crime groups who often hold such persons in debt bondage for sexual exploitation and indentured servitude in sweatshops and restaurants. In recent years, the Government has reported that some smugglers use killings and abduction to ensure payment.
There is evidence that trafficking takes place within the country to the extent that some recruited women subsequently were forced, through the sale of their "contracts," to work for other employers.
Reliable statistics on the number of women trafficked to the country were unavailable. In 2000 the National Police Agency identified 104 women as potential trafficking victims during criminal investigations involving entertainment businesses. However, the Government does not consider an individual who has willingly entered into an agreement to work illegally in the country to be a trafficking victim, regardless of that person's working conditions once in the country. Thus, government figures may understate the problem as persons who agreed to one kind of work find themselves doing another, or are subject to force, fraud, or coercion. Traffickers were prosecuted for crimes ranging from violations of employment law to Penal Code offenses such as abduction, and the Government does not compile statistics on the number of trafficking victims associated with these cases. Since trafficked women generally are deported under immigration law as prostitutes, immigration statistics may provide only a rough picture of the scale of the problem. A government-funded study released in August 2000 found that nearly two-thirds of foreign women surveyed following arrests for immigration offenses stated that they were working in the sex industry under duress. Ministry of Justice statistics indicated that 1.5 percent of the 24,661 women deported in 1999, the latest figures available, were deported as prostitutes (others who worked in the sex industry were deported for other reasons). Many women who are trafficked into the country, particularly from the Philippines, also enter legally on entertainment visas. An estimated 40,000 women from the Philippines enter the country each year on such visas. "Entertainers" are not covered by the Labor Standards Law, and have no minimum wage protections; however, there are indications that they may be somewhat less vulnerable to abuse by employers than female migrant workers entering on other types of visas or illegally.
Brokers in the countries of origin recruit women and "sell" them to Japanese intermediaries, who in turn subject them to debt bondage and coercion. Agents, brokers, and employers involved in trafficking for sexual exploitation often have ties to organized crime.
Women trafficked to the country generally are employed as prostitutes under coercive conditions in businesses that are licensed to provide commercial sex services. Sex entertainment businesses are classified as "store form" businesses such as strip clubs, sex shops, hostess bars, and private video rooms, and as "nonstore form" businesses such as escort services and mail order video services which arrange for sexual services to be conducted elsewhere. According to NGO's and other credible sources, most women who were trafficked to the country for the purpose of sexual exploitation were employed as hostesses in "snack" bars, where they were required to provide sexual services off premises.
For example, many Thai women were enticed to come to the country with offers of lucrative legitimate employment, only to be sexually exploited; many others reportedly know that they will work as prostitutes. However, whether or not they understand the nature of the work they will be doing, trafficked women generally do not understand the debts they will be forced to repay, the amount of time it will take them to repay the debts, or the conditions of employment they will be subjected to upon arrival. According to Human Rights Watch, the passports of Thai women trafficked to work in "dating" bars usually were confiscated by their "employers," who also demand repayment for the cost of their "purchase." Typically, the women were charged $25,000 to $40,000 (3 million to 5 million yen); their living expenses and expenses for medical care (when provided by the employer) and other necessities, as well as "fines" for misbehavior, were added on to the original "debt" over time. How the debt was calculated was left to the employers; the process was not transparent, and the employers reportedly often used the debt to coerce additional unpaid labor from the trafficked women. Employers also may "resell" or threaten to resell troublesome women or women found to be HIV positive, thereby increasing the debt they must repay and possibly worsening their working conditions. In order to repay the debts they incur, trafficked women generally must work long hours (often with no days off) for several months, essentially without pay. Many women were not allowed to refuse clients, even those known to be physically abusive. Most Thai women trafficked into the sex trade have their movements strictly controlled by their employers while working off their debt, and were threatened with reprisals, perhaps through members of organized crime groups, to themselves, or their families if they try to escape. Employers often isolated the women, subjected them to constant surveillance, and used violence to punish them for disobedience. Most trafficked women also knew that they were subject to arrest if found without their passports or other identification documents. In any case, few spoke Japanese well, making escape even more difficult.
In 1999 the Diet amended the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Businesses in order to supplement the Prostitution Prevention Act as an instrument against trafficking. The amended law sanctions employers rather than just sanctioning victims and requires the Government to refuse to grant or to revoke the business license of anyone convicted of the "crime of encouragement" to engage in prostitution. In 1999 the Diet also enacted a law intended to prevent all forms of sexual exploitation of children, whether trafficked or not, which imposes a 1- to 3-year sentence on anyone convicted of trading in children for the purpose of child prostitution or child pornography. Traffickers can also be prosecuted for violations of employment, immigration, or labor laws, and for Penal Code offenses such as abduction and kidnaping. However, relatively few persons ever are prosecuted in connection with trafficking and forced sexual servitude; those who were prosecuted generally are prosecuted in connection with violations of immigration law. There were allegations that some law enforcement units have been reluctant to investigate reports of trafficking and that the Government has not been aggressive in arresting and prosecuting suspected traffickers.
Domestic NGO's and lawyers have compiled credible anecdotal evidence that suggested that some individual police officials have returned trafficking victims to their employers when these individuals sought police protection. NGO's also reported that police sometimes declined to investigate suspected brokers when presented with information obtained from trafficking victims. In a 1991 incident widely reported in the press, a government investigation found that two local police officials from Mie prefecture had returned the trafficking victims to their employers after having taken bribes from organized criminal groups that were associated with the traffickers. The two officials were forced to resign their positions, but were not prosecuted.
Except for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which funds a Tokyo-based NGO assisting victims of trafficking, the Government does not assist victims of trafficking for sexual purposes other than to house them temporarily in facilities established under the Antiprostitution Law, in detention centers for illegal immigrants, or through referrals to shelters run by NGO's; generally they are deported as illegal aliens. Victims often are treated as criminals because the Government does not consider persons who willingly enter for illegal work to be trafficking victims. Women without documentation or sufficient funds to return to their country of origin may be detained for long periods. Several NGO's throughout the country provided shelter, medical and legal assistance to trafficking victims. The Government funded trafficking prevention efforts in Asian source countries, sponsored public information campaigns targeted at potential victims, and provided equipment and training to police and customs officials in those countries.
The illegal drug of choice in Japan overwhelmingly is methamphetamine. Several distinct trends are observed in an overview of drug crimes during the past year. First, the number of arrests for methamphetamine-related crimes increased for the third straight year, clearly indicating that Japan is experiencing a bounce in methamphetamine abuse similar to the mid-1970's, when methamphetamine-related arrests climbed to over 20,000 per year. Second, large seizures of methamphetamine have increased. During August 1998, police and customs in Japan seized a record 312 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed inside machine tools shipped from Hong Kong to Japan. This record seizure followed the arrest of three persons who allegedly were involved in an attempt to smuggle 300 kilograms of methamphetamine into Japan aboard a fishing boat. The captain of the fishing boat reportedly told police he obtained the methamphetamine in a rendezvous with another ship at sea. Believing he was being observed, the captain threw the methamphetamine overboard, after which packages of methamphetamine washed ashore on Japan's southern islands. To put these shipments into perspective, Japanese authorities seized 171.9 kilograms of methamphetamine during all of 1997. Third, methamphetamine abuse is spreading to younger users. Police report increases in the arrest of both junior and senior high school age users reflecting lower prices and greater availability. Fourth, indiscriminate street sales of methamphetamine and other drugs, particularly by Iranians, are on the increase. Police note that Iranians involved in drug sales usually are residing illegally in Japan and offer a smorgasbord of illegal drugs. Police report seizure of the proceeds of drug sales and cellular telephones from drug dealers showing an increased use of anti-money laundering laws. In 1998, seizures and arrests for other drugs were relatively small: approximately 1,100 marijuana and hashish arrests with seizures of 136 kilograms of marijuana and 105 kilograms of hashish. Cocaine accounted for 60 arrests and seizure of 25 kilograms. Forty-four people were arrested for heroin related offenses and six kilograms were seized.
According to National Police Agency (NPA) officials, approximately 94 percent of all drug offenses in Japan involve violation of the stimulant (methamphetamine) control law. Other abused drugs in Japan, in descending order of abuse, are marijuana, cocaine, heroin, opium, and MDMA ("ecstasy"). Drug use among juveniles has risen rapidly in recent years.
Japan is not a major producer of illicit drugs. Nearly all are smuggled in from foreign sources. Japan produces many precursor chemicals, which also have legitimate industrial uses.
Because the money laundering law in Japan criminalizes only drug money laundering, any criminal money laundering which occurs in Japan is, by definition, related to narcotics. Law enforcement officers report that drug and money laundering investigations initiated in the U.S. periodically show a link between drug-related money laundering activities in the U.S. and bank accounts in Japan. The extent of such activity is unknown. Japan is not, and is unlikely to become, a significant producer of narcotics. Japan, however, is believed to have one of the largest methamphetamine markets in Asia. An estimated one million methamphetamine addicts are believed to consume approximately seven tons of methamphetamine a year. Cocaine use is believed to be on the rise. Police in Japan and U.S. Customs conducted a controlled delivery of three kilograms of cocaine transported by a courier from Columbia to Japan in November 1998 resulting in the arrest of a Colombian trafficker-the first such controlled delivery and arrest accomplished in Japan.
There is a growing drug market in Japan, especially among juveniles, and increased trafficking activity within the illegal immigrant population. Narcotics' trafficking in Japan is a source of income for Japanese organized crime. Organized crime members sometimes try to sell their product overseas, including in the U.S. The U.S. FBI, and other law enforcement offices, coordinate closely with the Japanese National Police Agency in trying to prevent this activity.
Japan is suspected of being a major money laundering center, and police believe criminal organizations are behind much of the drug trafficking and money laundering which takes place in Japan. Laws criminalizing drug-related money laundering and authorizing execution of controlled drug deliveries were enacted in 1992. Although the 1992 law also authorizes the reporting of suspicious transactions by Japanese financial institutions, such reporting rarely occurs.
Amendments to Japan's foreign exchange control law took effect on April 1, 1998, requiring travelers entering and departing Japan to report to customs authorities physically transported currency, monetary instruments, and gold. All currency over one million yen (approximately $8,000) and gold over one kilogram are reportable under the new legislation.
U.S. law enforcement agencies in Japan report informal cooperation with authorities in Japan is generally good, and the U.S. anticipates beginning the negotiation of an MLAT in 1999.
Legislation enacted in 1992 created a system to confiscate illegal profits gained through drug crimes, criminalized money laundering, and authorized execution of controlled narcotics deliveries. Seizure provisions apply to tangible and intangible assets, direct illegal profit, substitute assets, and criminally derived property commingled with legitimate assets.
Police have seized a total of about $6.3 million (723 million yen) in drug proceeds in 82 investigations since 1992, when the 1992 law allowing police to seize such money took effect. The largest of the cases originated in September 1997, when police in Osaka arrested an organized crime gang leader who had allegedly received $1.3 million (148 million yen) from junior gang members in exchange for offering them a place to sell drugs. The Osaka District Court imposed a penalty of 148 million yen on the gang leader in February 1998 in the first use of Article Ten of the money laundering law which makes it unlawful to receive money that has been illegally earned. In March 1997, the Tokyo District Court sentenced a senior organized crime gang member to life in prison and imposed a $291,000 (33.48 million yen) fine for his involvement in the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine. As of October 1998, police have applied the money laundering law in eighteen cases. Police have found it difficult, however, to apply the money laundering law because in addition to proving the smuggling or sale of drugs, investigators also must show the amount of money illegally earned.
The seizures are believed to account for only a small fraction of the estimated $3.5 billion (police estimate) earned through sales of illegal drugs in Japan. Although statutorily authorized since 1992, police seldom used their asset seizure authority in drug investigations until 1996 when police used the law in dealing with 25 money laundering cases. Indications are that the police may be making greater use of their seizure authority in drug cases and the NPA has called on prefecture police to apply the law more widely to crack down on drug dealers.
Proceeds of seized assets go into a general treasury. Japan will not accept asset sharing even on drug and money laundering investigations on which it provides substantial cooperation. Japan does not appear likely to create a U.S.-style forfeiture fund to collect and disburse forfeited proceeds because of a belief that law enforcement should not directly "profit" from seizure of illegally obtained assets.
Japan continued its sponsorship of many annual international drug enforcement and prevention programs, including the Asia-Pacific Operational Drug Enforcement Conference, a seminar on control of drug offenses, and a training course on drug prevention activities. Japan also is an active participant in all major conferences conducted throughout the world each year, which concern narcotics trafficking and related crimes.
Japan is an active member of the UNDCP Major Donors Group, and finances and participates in many UNDCP programs. Japan allocated $5 million for UNDCP programs in 1998.
Police anti-narcotics efforts tend to focus on Japanese organized crime groups, the main smugglers and distributors of drugs. Police and prosecutors, however, have been hesitant to pursue cases in which a conviction is uncertain. In addition to smuggling and distribution activities, law enforcement officials are paying increased attention to drug-related financial crimes.
Although money laundering is a criminal offense in Japan, the current money laundering law is largely untested and only beginning to be used. The police are the only government entity authorized to conduct criminal financial/money laundering investigations. Creation of a financial intelligence unit, to collect and analyze financial data, is part of the comprehensive crime package awaiting Diet approval. In addition, the burden of proof on law enforcement to link money and assets to specific drug activity limits the law's effectiveness. The money laundering law would be more useful if expanded from being a drug-only statute to cover a wider range of criminal activity giving rise to illicit proceeds.
Underground banking systems operate in Japan via a series of personal relationships among individuals and businesses in other locations, including abroad. In June 1997, two Chinese nationals were arrested in Yokohama on suspicion of operating an "underground bank" which allegedly generated approximately $522,000 (60 million yen) in commissions and more than $870,000 (100 million yen) in exchange benefits. The pair was arrested for violating the banking law of Japan by engaging in overseas cash transfers without a license. Japan has no known drug-related corruption.
Following conclusion of a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement between Japan and U.S. Customs in 1997, the U.S. and Japan have agreed to initiate formal negotiation of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty during 1999. Japan and the U.S. continue to cooperate under a 1978 extradition treaty. Japan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Although not a significant cultivator or producer of controlled substances, Japan is a major producer of 60 types of precursor chemicals, which have legitimate industrial uses. Japan is one of only a handful of countries that produce ephedrine, which is used to create antihistamines, but also is an essential ingredient in methamphetamine. Japan is a member of the Chemical Action Task Force, and DEA agents in Japan are conscientious about monitoring end users of precursors.
Arrests of foreigners for violating drug-related laws are increasing. The major nationalities represented are: Filipinos, Iranians, South Koreans, Thais and Nigerians. Almost all drugs illicitly trafficked in Japan are smuggled from overseas. According to sources from the NPA, China and Thailand are the principal overseas sources/transit points.
Domestic programs primarily focus on interdiction rather than consumers. Domestic demand is rising, especially among minors. According to police statistics, from January to June 1997, minors' abuse of stimulants was up 26 percent from the same period in 1996. The Japanese Government is concerned over the rise in abuse of amphetamines among Japan's youth. The Government supports prevention and education programs in Japan's schools, and works with and encourages NGOs engaged in prevention and treatment.