Table Speech

Prosecution/Criminal Investigation and Intelligence in Japan

August 25, 2010

Mr. Takashi Oizumi
Attorney, Hironaka Law Office

 Prosecutors have investigated illegal cases by exercising national punitive authority since olden times. Their duty lies in maintaining the basic law and order as well as providing services to achieve safe, free and fair society. In this regards, their scope of duty is akin to a service industry.

 Judges and attorneys play similar roles in the judicial arena in most countries, while prosecutors undertake different functions depending on countries.

 One of the striking characteristics of the Japanese prosecutors is the emphasis placed on investigations. In most countries, prosecutors mainly focus on trials, while Japanese prosecutors actually undertake investigations to get at the bottom of the matter. In fact, investigations conducted by Japanese prosecutors led to the indictment of the ex-Prime Minister for the Lockheed bribery scandal.

 Prosecutors are authorized to decide whether to prosecute or drop a criminal case (authority of prosecution). To guarantee fair and accurate investigations and punishments, prosecutors are endowed with extensive investigative authority as well as command authority over other investigative organizations, including the police. Further collaboration among law enforcement agencies, including Fair Trade Commission, Taxation Bureau, Japan Coast Guard and Immigration Bureau, became necessary in recent years.

 In Japan, 35% of cases result in actual prosecution, while 52% remain non-prosecuted (suspended indictment). Such a large number of suspended indictments prove how cautious and prudent prosecutors are in handling criminal cases. Prosecutors get the same judicial education as judges, and as a result of their prudent decisions only justifiable cases are prosecuted.

 In any criminal case, prosecutors check all sorts of physical evidence to find out documents and records establishing various crimes. Detailed and careful investigation conducted by the investigative team for the Douglas Grumman scandal, which I joined, clarified the 500-million-yen political donation (or bribery) made to the Japanese politician.

 Prosecutors must have wide-ranging knowledge on corporate accounting, tax system or currency exchange. They must also be competent in handling economic crimes, high-tech or networking crimes and organized crimes, which have increased in the past few years.

 Results of recent public-opinion polls show that more than 80% of people are worried about worsening security in Japan. Law enforcement organizations should join forces for achieving a safe society.

 Japan took pride in being the world’s safest country during the mid-1970s, when its crime-arrest ratio recorded 60%. Unfortunately, the ratio dropped to 20% in 2001, and recovered to around 30% in 2007, which means only a third of the criminals are arrested today.

 Many of those un-arrested commit subsequent offenses. It is worrying as effective countermeasures can only be worked out by arresting criminals and identifying and analyzing their nationality, age, sex and other features.

 As the old saying goes “arrest best prevents crimes.” How to improve the crime-arrest ratio is a big challenge. Reinforcing the investigative authority to match the level of other Western countries can be a solution, by approving ‘wire-tapping’ or ‘plea bargaining’.

 Comprehensive crime-prevention measures are needed, where citizens participate to achieve safe communities. A certain community in the US opened a gym during nighttime and held a midnight basketball match, which eventually decreased juvenile crimes. This is a good example of how a soft-type justice, where residents take an active role as well as benefiting from social safety, often works better than strict and oppressive justice.

 Now, let me touch upon the second topic “intelligence.” I served as the Director-General of the Public Security Investigation Agency from 2004 to 2006. During that time I made about 40 intelligence briefings to the then Prime Ministers on security issues.

 Information is gathered through various methods, including eavesdropping or data-communication interception. The Public Security Investigation Agency mainly undertakes HUMINT (human intelligence), that is information collection and analysis by means of interpersonal contacts.

 HUMINT should report only on actual facts, and never distort or manipulate facts in order to reflect the political intentions of decision makers. There are lessons to be learnt from the “slam dunk intelligence” provided by the ex-CIA Chief to the then President Bush, which made him decide to advance US operations into Iraq, based on the convenient information that “there is no doubt that Iraq possesses Weapon of Mass Destruction.”

 Intelligence plays a crucial role for political leaders. For example, chief intelligence officers lecture the US President every morning on the world situation. It is no exception when he is travelling abroad and he gets briefings at oversea embassies. As the Director-General of the Public Security Investigation Agency myself, I reported to the then Prime Ministers, including Mr. Koizumi. I still recall how committed and enthusiastic the former Prime Minister Mr. Nakasone was, when he listened to my briefing on situations in East Asia, Korea, China and Russia so attentively while taking detailed notes.

 It is my sincere wish that the Public Security Investigation Agency will continue to get your understanding and support to make further contribution to the world of intelligence and safety.