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Guidelines for Ensuring Appropriate Interrogations in Police Investigations

 The National Police Agency issued the "Guidelines for Ensuring Appropriate Interrogations in Police Investigations" on 24 January 2008. In the wake of several cases in which defendants were acquitted in the courts in Kagoshima, Toyama and other Prefectures in 2007, police investigation and interrogation tactics were brought into question. The National Public Safety Commission urged on 1 November 2007 to take measures such as conducting stricter supervision during interrogations and prohibiting lengthy interrogations to improve the situation in order to regain public trust in the police. The guideline was mapped out in response to such decision.
 With regard to the improvement of supervision during interrogation, the guideline demands a supervisory body be set up in the General Affairs or Police Administration division in the police headquarters as an outside division of the investigation department. The document lists examples of inappropriate actions including touching their bodies, exercising direct/indirect force, doing or saying something that makes suspects unsure or embarrassed, demanding that they hold the same pose for a long time, offering favors, and performing an act severely harming suspect's dignity except in unavoidable circumstances. The police also have to obtain prior approval in case that the interrogations are held after 10 p.m. at night or before 5 a.m. in the morning, or that the interrogations last longer than 8 hours a day. According to the guideline, the supervisory body launches probes during interrogation and will accept any formal complaint from the suspects. Chief investigators are also required to make reports on the interrogation of not only the suspects/defendants in custody but also of those who are not yet in custody.
 With regard to police interrogation, the Human Rights Committee expressed their concerns in November 1998 that there were too many convictions by confession, there was no rule to prohibit lengthy interrogation, there was no way to ensure that the appropriate interrogation was conducted, and lawyers were absent from the interrogation proceedings. More recently, in May 2007, the UN Committee against Torture expressed their concerns about police interrogations in Japan, and recommended that a systematic monitoring and recording mechanism be implemented, such as introducing the recording and videotaping of interrogations and imprisonments, and the presence of a lawyer during interrogation. The committee also recommended that abusive interrogators be reprimanded to prevent lengthy interrogations.
 The Public Prosecutors Office already started introducing partial recording and videotaping of interrogations in 2006. (31 January 2008)

·"Guidelines for Ensuring Appropriate Interrogations in Police Investigations" (National Police Agency) [Japanese]
·"Consideration of Reports Submitted by Japan under Artice 40 of the Covenant: Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee (OHCHR)
·Committee Against Torture 38th Session (OHCHR) [English]

See also:
UN Committee against Torture Considered Report of Japan (Hurights Osaka News in Brief 2007)
Prosecution Introduces Partial Recording and Videotaping of Interrogation on a Trial Basis (Hurights Osaka News In Brief June 2006)