Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Japan: Plan to Videotape Police Interviews with Criminal Suspects

(Feb. 22, 2010) The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest member of the country's ruling coalition since the fall of 2009, had submitted a bill to the Diet (parliament) in early 2009 that would have obligated the police and public prosecutors to videotape interviews with criminal suspects. (House of Councillors Bill No. 10, 171st Session.) The bill was not passed by both Houses of the Diet, however. The July 2009 DPJ election manifesto had included a plan to amend the Criminal Procedure Law as well, along the same lines as set forth in the bill.

After the unofficial leader of the DPJ, Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa, his secretary, and a House member who is very close to him were interviewed by the Public Prosecutor's Office for violation of the Political Fund Regulation Law in January 2010, some DPJ members had called for swift enactment of legislation on the videotaping of such interviews. However, DPJ members who serve as the Minister of Justice and other Cabinet leaders publicly stated that submission of the bill must be examined carefully, in cooperation with the police and the Public Prosecutor's Office. (Kashi ka hōan kon kokkai de seiritsu o = minshu tirata shi [Enact Visually Reviewable Interviews Law in This Diet Session = DPJ Member Hirata Says], JIJI PRESS, Jan. 22, 2010, available at

On January 28, 2010, the Diet's Public Security Committee Chairman, Hiroshi Nakai, established a group to study the videotaping of interviews, as well as sting operations and plea bargains, for the next two years. The group held its first meeting on February 5, 2010. Nakai thinks it may be necessary to introduce new systems to make criminal investigations easier, such as the use of sting operations and plea bargaining, to balance any obligation to videotape entire interviews, since it is thought that would make investigation more difficult. (Seishi Chiyosaki, <Torishirabe kashi ka> Koan iincho no kenkyukai hatsu kaigo [<Visually Reviewable Interviews> First Study Group of Public Security Committee Chairman's Meeting Held], MAINICHI NEWSPAPER, Feb. 5, 2010, available at

Even under the former ruling coalition, the government had studied and planned the partial videotaping of interviews of criminal suspects. The Public Prosecutor's Office started a test program of videotaping such interviews in 2006. Since 2008, police and public prosecutors have been videotaping parts of interviews. (Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Torishirabe no kashi ka (torishirabe no zen katei no rokuga) jitsugen [Realization of Visually Reviewable Interviews (Videotaping Entire Process of Interviews)], http://www.nichibenren
(last visited Feb. 5, 2010).)