The Committee on Judicial Affairs of the House of Representatives proceeds to enactment of a bill to amend the Criminal Procedure Code, a bill lying on the other side of those to prepare for a war abroad, debating simultaneously on the latter in the Diet. The former contains provisions like ones to request 2% of criminal cases to be presented for full visualization during police inquiry of the suspects in custody, revise the Wire-Tapping Law and introduce plea bargaining which might increase false accusations.
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE AND PACKAGE OF WAR LAWS COMBINED
The bill to change the Criminal Procedure Code comes from a proposal raised by the Special Panel on Criminal and Judicial Codes to cope with New Era of the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice. People expected a lot from the body as they thought it would rectify structural errors committed in the false charges and bring about a society free of groundless prosecution. People have seen mistreatment of the accused in the incidents called Fukawa, Ashikaga, Shibushi, Hakamada, and etc., in which the accused had remained behind the bar for long years. But expectations have vanished completely.
A false accusation roots in illegal investigation by law enforcement authorities. It is structural, deriving from the criminal inquiry system, which must be changed significantly. The panel was to review what the investigative authorities had done and to decide true or false in light of the Constitution.
But, on the contrary, the relevant parties have not discussed freedom of habeas corpus assured by the Constitution. The major responsibility of the panel should have been securing presence of a defense lawyer during investigation, eliminating a long-hour interrogation practice, full protection of the right of silence and proper treatment of suspects/defendants as a human being. The special panel boasted of acting for the ‘new era’.
Visualization of police investigation (sound-recording and videoing) relies on the current investigation processes and does not make structural changes in the illegal probes. Only 2% of all the criminal cases are put on the lay judge system (where citizen jurors join trials together with professional judges) and subject to the visualization rules. In other words, the Federation of Bar Associations of Japan has allowed, by admitting a 2% ratio, more rigorous public order system and more powerful police authority to control and restrict people.
Police authority Strengthened
Enhanced wire-tapping practices and introduction of plea bargaining reinforce police authority. The proposed reform in the criminal procedures was a good chance as the prosecuting authorities had been criticized and people had watched them with close attention. On the contrary, however, the reform has been taken advantage of so as to strengthen power of police. The state authorities, if they are beaten severely, will recover soon.
One of the council members sent from the National Police Agency said: ‘a certain compromise was made for visualization of probe, but the police authority has won in terms of wire-tapping and plea bargaining to a greater extent’. The comment is symbolic.
Major activities of the Japanese police lie in guarding and maintaining public security. For this purpose they collect information. A well-known case is eavesdropping at a private home of Mr. Ogata Yasuo, Director of International Department of the Japanese Communist Party.
As is seen in the tapping act to be aggravated, it is evident that the bill is intended not only to admit recording and videoing of police investigation, but to consolidate the basis for public security. It is elaborately compiled to allow police authority to tighten order.
Oppose the Bill!
When the whole legislation is ready for waging a war abroad, the state will not allow people to protest or complain about that. A conciliating social order is vital to seek the goal.
The bill to amend the criminal procedures is coupled with the controversial package of war laws. Pointing this fact is an urgent task. We oppose the bill in the same way as No! to the war laws.
June 9, 2015