National / Crime & Legal

Reform proposal calls for plea bargaining, limited recording of questioning

Kyodo

The Justice Ministry has released a reform proposal for criminal investigations and trials seeking to introduce mandatory recording of questioning in limited cases, expansion of wiretapping and introduction of a plea bargain system.

The ministry plans to submit relevant bills to the Diet next year to push for substantial reforms after the Legislative Council recommends the proposed measures.

The proposal calls for audio or video recording of the entire interrogation process for suspects in cases subject to lay judge trials and investigations conducted exclusively by prosecutors.

The proposal comes after bar associations and other groups demanded that interrogation processes in all criminal cases be recorded to help prevent false charges.

It also seeks to extend law enforcement authorities’ use of telephone wiretapping and email surveillance to more than 10 additional crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder, arson, robbery, fraud and theft.

The proposal also calls for plea bargaining to be introduced, under which prosecutors would agree to withdraw an indictment if a suspect provides depositions or evidence in connection with other cases related to financial and drug crimes.

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