The Public Prosecutors Office announced the introduction of partial recording and videotaping of the interrogations by prosecutors in 2006, and some District Public Prosecutors Offices then started this on a trial basis. In March 2008, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office verified the effectiveness of recording and videotaping, saying it was reliable in proving the voluntary nature of confession, and therefore the office would start full scale implementation in all District Public Prosecutors Offices from April 2008. In order to launch such monitoring measures, they prepared a draft guideline. Partial recording and videotaping was introduced as a means of proving that the confession was not extracted under duress but voluntarily when such confession was used at Saiban-in (lay judges) system. According to the report made by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, 170 interrogations were partially recorded and videotaped by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and 13 other District Public Prosecutors Offices up until the end of December 2007. 22 of the recordings were used as evidences, and 4 of these were investigated during the trials, 3 of which involved discussions over the voluntary nature of confession. The court considered the confession was reasonable in 2 cases and unreasonable in one.
The report said the partial recording and videotaping of interrogations was useful and effective in proving whether the confession was made voluntarily or not, but that as the practice in the courts was still limited, it was necessary to accumulate more examples for further discussion. Although only partial, monitoring was considered useful to ensure appropriate interrogations because the prosecutors could not stop the recording/videotaping unilaterally and suspects were given the opportunity to speak voluntarily. But there was also some doubt about the effectiveness of such measures, with the view that the entire recording and videotaping could hamper the uncovering of the real fact.
According to the guideline, interrogations will be recorded and videotaped on a full scale across the country from April. The monitored interrogations can be used at the courts where Saiban-in system is applied and where evidence of confession may be requested for examination. Interrogations will not be recorded when i) a suspect refuses to be recorded, ii) a suspect is involved in organized crime in which concerned parties have to be protected, iii) when monitoring may spoil the relationship with contacts, iv) in cases involving an interpreter who refuses to be recorded, and/or v) in cases where recording and/or videotaping will be physically difficult.
With regard to the content of the recordings, the situations relating to the voluntary nature of confession include interrogation after the confession, conversations between a suspect and prosecutors on the process of making a statement, motivation for confessing and interrogation circumstances, and a suspect confirming the content of the statement by signature. The guideline also recommends that both recording and videotaping are conducted at the same time, the prosecutor declares the beginning and the ending of the interrogation, and that recording and videotaping should not be stopped merely at the prosecutor's convenience.
The Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture recommended the recording and videotaping of entire interrogation proceedings conducted by the police. theThe National Police Agency also issued the guideline to ensure appropriate interrogation in January 2008 and mapped out the draft rules of the National Public Safety Commission, but this did not refer to recording and videotaping. (28 March 2008)
· "Examination for Recording and Videotaping of Interrogation on a Trial Basis" (Supreme Public Prosecutors Office) [Japanese]
· "Guidelines for Ensuring Appropriate Interrogations in Police Investigations" (National Police Agency) [Japanese]
Prosecution Introduces Partial Recording and Videotaping of Interrogations on a Trial Basis (June 2006)