A plea bargain agreed on between a Yokohama-based power plant maker and Tokyo prosecution investigators — over suspected bribery of a civil servant in Thailand in connection with a contract with a local electricity firm to build a power plant there — may test the effectiveness of the system launched just last month as a new tool in the fight against organized crime. The deal has resulted in the indictment of three former executives of the company. It needs to be scrutinized whether the deal, in which the prosecutors reportedly promised not to pin criminal responsibility on the company in return for its cooperation in the investigation of its employees allegedly involved in bribing the Thai official, is in line with the system’s stated purpose.

Under the new plea bargain system, a suspect or defendant in a criminal case offers to cooperate with investigators by testifying or providing evidence against a third party — likely an accomplice — and prosecutors promise leniency in return. The government has said the program will be effective against organized crime. Whereas in the past it was often difficult for investigators to reach the higher echelons of an organization involved in a crime even when they arrest its lower-ranking members who engage in the criminal acts, a plea bargain supposedly will make it easier for investigators to obtain information that incriminates the organization’s leaders who ordered the acts.

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