The Justice Ministry plans to introduce electronic arrest warrants and interrogation records as the country moves toward the digitalization of its criminal procedures, ministry officials said on Monday.

Currently, judges issue paper warrants that police officers pick up at the courts.

The ministry will submit revisions to the Code of Criminal Procedure in parliament next year to enable such warrants and records based on proposals made by its advisory panel on Monday, they said.

The panel comprising university professors and senior judicial officials was convened by the Justice Ministry following a government decision in 2020 to digitalize criminal and investigative procedures.

Britain, France, the United States and South Korea are among countries that already issue arrest warrants electronically, according to a document presented by the panel.

The panel has also proposed the use of video conferencing to allow defendants with an illness or disability to attend their trial remotely as well as psychiatric experts and interpreters to participate in court hearings. In Japan, the use of video conferencing in court proceedings has been restricted to certain cases, such as those involving sexual abuse.

The panel also has proposed that other investigation and criminal procedures, including those related to indictment and bail, go online.

Once a defendant is indicted, lawyers would be able to electronically view evidence collected by investigators, as opposed to making hard copies of documents as is the current practice.

The panel also proposed that the filing of criminal complaints be made available online.

While the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has called for lawyers' interviews with suspects and defendants to be conducted online, this was not among the panel's proposals.