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Police fully recorded large share of grillings

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — All police interrogation processes were recorded in audio or visual form in 81.9 percent of criminal cases that were subject to trials under the lay judge system in Japan in fiscal 2017, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number of such cases totaled 2,618 in the year that ended in March.

The revised criminal procedure law, which requires the full recording of interrogations in lay judge cases, is set to be enforced by June next year. The NPA started the full recording in October 2016 on a trial basis.

In 223 cases, interrogations could not be recorded due to mistakes in operating the recording devices or human error.

“We’ll provide thorough instructions with the aim of eliminating errors before the revised law’s enforcement,” a senior NPA official said.

In fiscal 2017, a total of 3,197 cases were subject to trials by lay judges.

Of the total, no recording took place at all in 120 cases, while part of interrogation processes was not recorded in 459 cases, according to the NPA.

As for reasons why interrogations were not recorded, shortages of or mechanical problems with recording devices occurred in 81 cases, suspects refused to be recorded in 178 cases and members of organized crime groups designated by police under a relevant law were involved in 114 cases.

These cases will be admitted as exceptions to the recording even after the revised law’s enforcement.

Among the 223 cases that involved human error and similar factors, interrogators forgot to press the record button or failed to recognize the lack of memory in recording devices in 154 cases, recording devices were not available in time in 60 cases and interrogators were not sufficiently aware of the full recording system in six cases.

In addition to lay judge cases, the police have started the full recording of interrogations of suspects who are mentally ill or developmentally disabled, on top of those of intellectually disabled suspects.

Of such cases totaling 3,960 in fiscal 2017, interrogations were fully recorded in 2,521 cases.

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