Miranda, Confessions, and Justice: Lessons for Japan?
Richard A. Leo
University of San Francisco - School of Law
THE JAPANESE ADVERSARY SYSTEM IN CONTEXT: CONTROVERSIES AND COMPARISONS, Malcolm M. Feeley, Setsuo Miyazawa, eds., Palgrave Macmillan, 2002
This chapter explores whether a Miranda-like warning and waiver regime could be successfully implemented in Japan. The chapter reviews the social science and legal scholarship on Miranda's impact on American interrogation practices and suspect behavior, concluding that most American suspects continue to waive their rights and law enforcement personnel continue to obtain a high number of confessions and convictions. Next, the chapter discusses the contemporary law and practice of interrogation in Japan. In Japan, interrogation appears to be routinely psychologically coercive and virtually all defendants make either partial admissions or full confessions to alleged offenses. Confessions are regarded as superior to all other forms of evidence within the Japanese criminal justice system and often as necessary for charging and convictions. Japanese courts rarely suppress confession statements, even if obtained under highly questionable circumstances, and the exclusionary rule operates as a weak, if not ineffectual, control on investigators' behaviors. Furthermore, Japanese police and prosecutors believe confessions are necessary for suspects to accept moral responsibility for their offenses, to repent, and to begin the process of rehabilitation and reintegration. Because of Japan's enabling rules of criminal procedure, current practices of Japanese police and prosecutors, and Japanese popular beliefs and cultural expectations, a Miranda-like warning and waiver regime would be difficult to implement in Japan. To succeed, Miranda warnings would have to be linked to a massive reform of criminal procedure rules and the Japanese criminal justice system would have to undergo a dramatic transformation. Nonetheless, other criminal justice policy reforms in Japan are worthy of consideration, such as mandatory videotaping of all custodial interrogations in their entirety. Without intruding on the prerogative of interrogators to question suspects or lessening the willingness of suspects to speak to police, tape recording would improve the quality of interrogation, save time and resources, and lead to more effective and efficient case processing.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: Miranda, confessions, Japanese criminal procedure, Japanese criminal justice, comparative law, videotaping, interrogations
Date posted: March 23, 2010