Statement on Future Policies of the Ministry of Justice in Considering the Introduction of Audio/Video Recording of Interrogations
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Today, the Ministry of Justice released it’s report entitled, “The Way Audio/Video Recording of Interrogations of Suspects Should Be: Current Discussions and Future Policies,” (hereinafter referred to as the “MOJ Policies”). The MOJ Policies were released as the results of a study meeting and working group established within the Ministry of Justice which have been engaged in discussing and considering the issues related to achieving the transparency of interrogations since October 2009. The MOJ Policies also stated that the study meeting and working group considered the issues essentially in an effort to “introduce audio/video recording of the entire process of interrogations of all cases,” which was a welcoming start point as it coincided with the basic policy aims of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
However, the MOJ Policies mentioned that the scope of interrogations which would be subject to audio/video recording would also be given consideration, and this is deemed to be a setback for the transparency of interrogations. It has already become apparent from the numerous miscarriages of justice which have taken place in the past, such as the Ashikaga case, that the video recording of the entire process of interrogations is imperative.
In addition, the MOJ Policies stated that introduction of new investigation methods would also be considered if necessary and that the results of these considerations would be finalized sometime after June 2011. However, it is the position of the JFBA that the video recording of the entire process of interrogations should be introduced regardless of investigation methods. The reasoning behind the Ministry of Justice’s insistence on considering the issue for a further year and delaying legislating for the transparency of interrogations also remains unclear.
The Ministry of Justice should sincerely accept the fact that the process of conducting interrogations behind closed doors has caused miscarriages of justice in a large number of cases and immediately commence legislating to bring about the realization of fully transparent interrogations. In addition, interrogations of cases subject to saiban-in trials should be immediately videotaped on a trial basis without waiting for such legislation to be finalized.