• Kyodo


The government on Friday decided to introduce the right to plea bargain on June 1 by putting into force a revised law on criminal proceedings.

A decree approved by the Cabinet will allow plea bargaining in a variety of cases, including crimes related to drugs, guns and bribery. It also covers a wide scope of violations such as those related to antitrust regulations, bankruptcy proceedings, patents and organized fraud.

While plea bargaining is expected to help in prosecutions related to organized crime, some lawyers and legal scholars have warned that it could result in false statements leading to charges against innocent people.

Under the revised law, prosecutors can agree not to seek indictment, seek prosecution for less serious charges or demand lighter penalties if a suspect or defendant provides evidence or depositions against accomplices.

Suspects or defendants will need consent from their defense counsel in writing to agree to such deals.

The change is part of an overhaul of the nation’s criminal investigation and trial systems. The law was enacted on May 24, 2016, and promulgated on June 3 the same year. It is supposed to take effect within two years of being promulgated.

A stipulation in the law obliging police and prosecutors to record interrogations in certain serious cases subject to lay judge trials — and in independent investigations by prosecutors — must come into effect within three years of the law’s promulgation.

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