A study panel of the Justice Ministry has issued a final report urging abolition of the statute of limitations for serious crimes such as murder. It will ask the ministry’s Legislative Council to discuss revisions to the Code of Criminal Procedure and other laws. The statute of limitations was first introduced to Japan’s penal policy by an 1880 law. Abolition of it will drastically change the penal policy, so careful consideration is needed.

Meanwhile, the panel proposed prolonging the statute of limitations for crimes such as inflicting injuries leading to death or reckless driving that causes death. The panel’s recommendations are a response to some crime victims’ family members who have demanded justice for the perpetrators of serious crimes, contending that improvements in DNA analysis can sustain investigations long after crimes have been committed. The panel said it should no longer be assumed that victims’ or family members’ demands for harsh punishment wane with time.

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