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Japan should use GPS monitoring devices to prevent indicted individuals from fleeing the country while they are on bail, a government advisory panel working group has said.

In its draft proposal released Friday, the Legislative Council working group, an advisory panel to the justice minister, said that Japan should be able to order defendants to wear GPS devices under court orders.

The group also called for making nonappearance a crime to punish defendants if they fail to appear in court for trials.

In June 2020, the council started discussions on the use of GPS devices after former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn fled Japan while on bail awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges.

After the proposal is delivered to the minister, the Justice Ministry aims to submit to the Diet legislation to revise the criminal procedure law at an early date, sources familiar with the situation said.

Under the draft proposal, courts can order defendants to wear GPS devices if there is a possibility of them fleeing Japan after being released on bail. After receiving a court order, the accused would be obliged to wear a GPS device at all times.

The GPS device would be used to detect entry by defendants into designated no-go zones, such as areas near airports and ports, without permission, or the destruction of the monitoring device.

In such a case, courts would be able to ask public prosecutors to have the defendants taken into custody.

According to the ministry, the proportion of detained defendants who were released on bail nearly doubled from 15.6% in 2009 to 31.9% in 2020. In 2019, Japan saw a series of cases in which defendants skipped bail.

The existing crime of escape only covers cases in which criminals run away from prisons. Against this background, the draft proposal calls for creating a crime of nonappearance to punish defendants if they do not appear in court on the day of their trials and a crime of defection if they leave their designated residences without permission, aiming for prison terms of up to two years.

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