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More police begin full taping of suspects during questioning in 2014

Kyodo

Five more prefectural police forces have begun making audiovisual recordings of suspects under questioning in cases for lay judge trials in fiscal 2014, bringing the number to 13 out of the 47 prefectures, according to a Kyodo News tally compiled on Tuesday.

Three more prefectural police forces have also decided to start full recordings by the end of this fiscal year, or plan to do so. An advisory panel to the justice minister supports the idea of mandating full recordings of interrogations by investigators in such cases.

Every prefectural police force has already begun recording parts of the questioning process, such as when an interrogation statement is read to a suspect.

But police officers are split on the idea of mandating complete recording of interrogations, according to a questionnaire survey conducted by Kyodo News on nationwide police forces from mid-July to mid-August.

“It’s effective to verify that there were no leading questions or coercion,” an investigator said. But another said, “It would make it difficult for suspects to tell the truth.”

Eight prefectural police forces — in Aomori, Gunma, Kanagawa, Chiba, Aichi, Hyogo, Tottori and Yamaguchi — began a trial run of full recordings in fiscal 2013. The five police forces that began doing so in the current fiscal year are those in Hokkaido, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Toyama and Kyoto, according to the survey.

Saitama, Nara and Wakayama prefectural forces plan to follow suit by the end of this fiscal year and the Kumamoto Prefectural Police force plans to do so in fiscal 2015 or later, the survey said.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo and the Osaka Prefectural Police force replied to the survey that have no plans to start recording full interrogations.