NPA to compile new database of suspects’ DNA

The National Police Agency will compile a DNA database using blood samples and bodily fluids collected from crime scenes to identify perpetrators, police sources said.

The agency also plans a database for DNA taken from crime suspects who are served with a search warrant.

The agency hopes the database will serve criminal investigations in the same way as the current fingerprint database, the sources said.

However, the plan will probably prompt fears that personal genetic information might be misused, possibly triggering calls for strict database management. DNA samples containing specific genetic characteristics will not be digitized for the database.

The NPA is cautiously studying whether legislation will be necessary, the sources said.

Police nationwide have DNA testing equipment and analyses are on the rise. Results are often used as evidence in trials and it has become an essential component of investigations.

A senior agency official said he hopes the DNA database “will be even more effective than fingerprint” records.

Japanese police began using DNA analysis in their investigations in 1989. As of March, they had conducted such tests in over 5,000 cases.

During a rape trial in 1992, the Shimotsuma branch of the Mito District Court became the first to acknowledge the credibility of DNA analysis. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that DNA tests are trustworthy.