On New Year's Eve, less than 2 weeks ago, the businessman Carlos Ghosn escaped from bail restrictions in Japan ("jumped bail") and fled to Lebanon. He then criticized the Japanese judiciary system where

guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold.

I have not fled justice, I have escaped injustice and political persecution

he said, and added he had interrogations

that lasted for up to eight hours a day without a lawyer present.

The Guardian adds

In Japan, the accused can be held for 23 days without charge – this is almost indefinitely renewable as judges normally give prosecutors the benefit of the doubt.

My questions are more about law in Japan, that has been highlighted thanks to M. Ghosn's case.

  • Does the law as it is written in Japanese books allows the justice system to "behave" as it did/does? (or its vague description allows some interpretation that is beneficial to the prosecutors)

  • Based on "in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold" - provided this is true - what kind of recourse would have an accused in Japan going through a similar ordeal?

1 Answer 1

  1. Yes. Article 60 allows detention for 60 + 30 days where “there is probable cause to suspect that the accused may conceal or destroy evidence” which is a threshold which an imaginative investigator and a compliant court can always meet. This does appear to be per charge so it can easily be made indefinite.

Japan’s is by no means unique in having laws that can be abused in that way - I’m sure all countries do. The written text of the law is no protection to the accused if the culture is such that courts interpret it the way the prosecutor wants.

  1. Which obligations would those be? International law doesn’t apply within countries , only between them. Whether and when any treaty japan signs and ratifies impacts Japanese domestic law is a matter for Japan. How the broad principles of international law and even the specific articles of treaties translate into domestic law is a matter for each county. Without knowing this and what specific provisions of which treaties are being discussed it’s hard to know if the statement is true.
  • 2
    Japan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…, which includes a right to counsel. It seems that the Japanese police routinely deny this right during prolonged questioning. Jan 11, 2020 at 11:17

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