• Kyodo News


Justice Minister Eisuke Mori expressed reluctance Friday over requiring police and prosecutors to fully videotape the questioning of crime suspects.

Critics say questioning behind closed doors has led to many wrongful convictions. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for a law requiring full videotaping.

State minister Tsutomu Sato, who oversees the police forces as chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, also showed reluctance to the full “visualization” of suspects’ questioning by investigators.

Both Mori and Sato spoke a day after a 62-year-old man serving a life sentence for the 1990 murder of a 4-year-old girl was freed from prison after 17 years behind bars as prosecutors told a high court they will accept a retrial because recent DNA analyses failed to link him with the victim.

Toshikazu Sugaya claims he was forced by investigators to confess to the kidnap-slaying despite his innocence.

Mori, who has jurisdiction over prosecutors, told reporters that full-fledged audio and video recording of interrogations “could cause (suspects) to hesitate in deposing and could also pose an obstacle to the revelation of the truth.”

He pointed out the need to introduce plea-bargaining and wiretapping in addition to conventional depositions from suspects for a sweeping review of investigative methods.

Police and prosecutors have already started partial audio and video recording of the questioning of criminal suspects on a trial basis, but only formal confession statements.

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