A government panel on juvenile delinquency on Thursday submitted a report to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi proposing that police be given more power to investigate crimes committed by children under 14.

The report also advocates lowering the minimum age for sending juveniles to reformatories to 14.

The panel, headed by Yoshitada Konoike, state minister in charge of disaster management, decided against lowering the minimum age at which juveniles can be held criminally responsible from the current 14.

Children under 14 cannot be held criminally responsible under the Penal Code. The law stipulates that family courts should handle these cases.

Police are required to inform a child welfare center if they question a minor in connection with crimes of this kind.

The report says consideration should be given to a proposal that would allow police to investigate crimes allegedly committed by those under 14 in a manner similar to investigations of crimes committed by older people.

Besides its suggestion that the minimum age for putting young offenders in reformatories should be lowered, the report also proposes expanding education and rehabilitation programs in juvenile reformatories.

Info on killer sought

The family of one of two children murdered by a youth in Kobe in 1997 has sent a letter to the government, requesting information on the man before his probation, sources said Thursday.

The man is being held at a special reformatory in Tokyo and has completed the necessary educational program to qualify for probation.

The reformatory asked the Kanto Regional Parole Board in March to allow him return to society.

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