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Those with the conviction that members of Japan’s Imperial family have negligible impact on the lives of their subjects should bear in mind that for a tiny few, it can literally be a matter of life or death.

More specifically, on festive occasions such as the coronation of a new emperor, it has long been the practice to offer amnesty to convicted criminals. The law provides for five levels of pardons ranging from amnesty, special amnesty, commutation of sentence (usually by one degree) and exoneration to full restoration of rights. These are determined according to the recommendations of a penal review board.

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