Japanese Law and Order: Systemic Issues, Controversy, and Calls of Reform




VanLeeuwen, Henry

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The practice of Japanese Law in Japan has long been under scrutiny within the International Community. Although the crime rate in Japan is low, the conviction rate in Japan is over 99%. This stems from systemic issues within Japanese law enforcement. Police regularly coerce confessions from suspected individuals and will refuse to grant access to legal counsel until confessions are made. This has resulted in a substantial number of false confessions and convictions of those detained by Japanese law enforcement. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that prosecutors and courtroom judges rely on guilty verdicts to further their careers. As Japan has no formal jury system and relies on judges to listen to testimony and pass down verdicts, this has caused many people to suspect that the practice of law enforcement in Japan is filled with corruption. However, Japanese citizens have regularly called for – and received – reforms within Japanese law enforcement in order to grant protection from law enforcement. One notable example of this is the saiban-in, a quasi-jury system implemented in more controversial criminal cases. However, there are many other reforms which have yet to be implemented. These include such things as protection from police brutality, easier access to legal counsel, and reforms to the courtrooms in Japan. This discussion will explain how law enforcement is implemented in Japan and the reforms which could be taken in order to ensure equal protection under the law, while also providing cross-cultural analysis of the practice of Japanese law enforcement with that of American law enforcement.



Japan, law, police, international, Honors College


VanLeeuwen, H. (2020). Japanese law and order: Systemic issues, controversy, and calls of reform (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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