TOKYO — The Japanese government on Friday decided to introduce the right to plea bargain on June 1 by putting into force a revised law on criminal proceedings.
In addition to crimes related to drug, gun and bribery cases as stipulated in the law, the Cabinet approved a decree to expand the scope of plea bargaining to crimes involving breaching of antitrust and financial instrument as well as exchange laws.
While plea bargaining is expected to help in the prosecution of organized crime, lawyers and legal scholars have warned that it could result in false statements leading to charges against innocent people.
The decree also covers the bankruptcy law, patent law, trademark law and copyright law. Organized fraud is also among crimes falling within the scope of plea bargaining in the revised criminal proceedings law.
Under the law, prosecutors may agree not to seek indictment, seek prosecution for less serious charges or demand lighter penalties if a suspect or defendant provides evidence or depositions against accomplices.
The suspect or defendant may agree to do so only if the defense lawyer’s consent is given in a written document, which is to be signed by the suspect or defendant, the lawyer and the prosecutors.
The revision in the criminal proceedings law is part of an overhaul of Japan’s criminal investigation and trial systems. The law was enacted in May 24, 2016 and promulgated on June 3 the same year. It is supposed to take effect within two years of its promulgation.
A stipulation in the law obliging police and prosecutors to record interrogations of suspects in certain serious cases subject to lay judge trials and in independent investigations by prosecutors is supposed to come into effect within three years of the law’s promulgation.