Japanese justice sure to surprise

Regarding the Oct. 13 editorial “Revising Status of Forces Agreement” and, specifically, the statement in the editorial that “A new agreement should oblige the U.S. to turn over suspects with the provision that they be accorded the same legal treatment in Japan as they would be given in the U.S.” (the so-called sticking point in negotiations about the U.S. forces in Japan): Such an agreement is impossible simply for the fact that it would draw the domestic population to look at Japan’s present draconian system.

How long would it be before the public started asking questions like:

Is having the authority to hold civilians for 23 days without charge excessive?

Are daiyo kangoku (detention cells at police stations) really necessary anymore?

Should interrogations be recorded?

Is psychological torture during interrogations really necessary?

Should coercion of confessions be made a criminal offense and punishable?

Should withholding medical treatment, meals and access to visitors from suspects until they confess be made punishable?

And so on for the myriad problems with the present system.

It’s a shaky house of cards, and doing something like this could cause the entire thing to come crashing down once people start actually looking at it and asking questions.

ron nj
from the japan times online

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Paul

    Thanks a lot, interesting points. I sometimes think that Japan is such a safe country for the same reason that Saudi Arabia is is (not too many people stealing there). No one in Japan dares commit a crime because if there is even a sniff you are guilty you are going straight to gaol. Of course a few innocent people get caught along the way but oh well, keeps the streets safe doesn’t it? Unless of course you are a business leader or politician, in which case you can commit crime with impunity.

    • Christopher-trier

      Could it also be that Japan has a functional, cohesive society without a criminal element that targets the population at large? Yes, I am aware of organised crime and it is a problem, but not to the same extent as criminal gangs are in the US.

      I am aware of the problems in the Japanese justice system and am happy that I do not live in the country, though I visit it frequently. At the same time I dealt with police trying to plant evidence on me in the USA and had to defend myself against false charges more than once. Japan’s problems are not unique. By the way, the former Speaker of the California State Assembly’s son had his sentence commuted by the former governor in exchange for co-operation in the State Assembly.