Japanese Justice Ministry rebuts ‘hostage justice’ criticism

The Justice Ministry gave explanations about the nation’s justice system on its website on Tuesday, rebutting international criticism against what is viewed as “hostage justice” in the wake of the flight of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn from the country after his prolonged detention.

The explanations were offered in 14 sets of questions and answers and are available in both Japanese and English.

In a question about arguments that Japan’s system is a form of hostage justice, the ministry said the system “does not force confessions by unduly holding suspects and defendants in custody.”

“It is therefore not accurate at all to criticize the Japanese system as being a ‘hostage justice’ system,” the ministry added.

On a question about whether suspects are held in custody for extended periods, the ministry said the maximum period of detainment after their arrest before they are indicted or not is 23 days for any single crime.

The ministry also said, “The detention of an indicted person is granted only if a court (judge) finds a risk of concealing or destroying evidence of crime, or fleeing from justice.” It added, “Bail may be granted by a court (judge) unless exceptional circumstances apply, such as the existence of a risk of concealing or destroying evidence by the indicted.”

“In short, suspects and defendants will be held in custody only for a necessary and reasonable duration under Japanese criminal proceedings,” it said.

The 3,000-word list of questions and answers also addresses Japan’s conviction rate of more than 99 percent and why lawyers aren’t present during questioning.

Ghosn, who was free on bail, fled over the New Year holidays as he was awaiting trial on charges such as underreporting income. He denies all the charges against him. He said he had no choice but to run and that he felt “like the hostage of a country I served for 17 years.”

His complaints were echoed by Australian sports journalist Scott McIntyre, who was detained in the same center as Ghosn for 44 days on trespassing charges after he tried to get information on his missing children.

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