The opposition-controlled House of Councilors passed a bill Friday to require police and prosecutors to record and film interrogations of criminal suspects in their entirety.
The amendment to the criminal procedure law cleared the Upper House plenary session with a majority vote of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party).
But the proposed legislation is unlikely to be enacted given expected opposition from the Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner, New Komeito, in the House of Representatives, which the ruling parties control.
“Questioning and interrogating suspects is an extremely important investigative method in Japan, where plea deals are not allowed, but it would make questioning harder to carry out if it’s fully recorded and filmed,” said Justice Minister Eisuke Mori, an LDP lawmaker.
Police have been partially recording and filming the final phase of interrogations of criminal suspects on a trial basis since September, after prosecutors decided on the practice last April. The partial videotaping was introduced ahead of the scheduled launch of a lay judge system this May, which will deal with murder and other serious crime cases.
The step is intended to verify the credibility of interrogation records and prevent wrongful accusations from forced confessions.
However, defense lawyers say recording should be done during the entire interrogation process.
The DPJ and SDP jointly submitted the amendment to the Diet on April 3.
The two parties seek full recording of interrogations to help prevent trials being prolonged due to disputes over the credibility of confessions.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.