The Japan Federation of Bar Associations said Wednesday it has produced notebooks in other languages for foreign suspects to use during police questioning, part of efforts to prevent law enforcement authorities from conducting illegal interrogations or forging confessions.
The “Suspect’s Notes” are available in English, Chinese and Korean, and will be distributed to regional bar associations to help foreigners. They can also be downloaded from the federation’s website.
The notebooks have been designed for suspects to record details of their interrogations, including whether they understand interpretations or if interrogators accept requests for corrections to written statements, as well as any other matters that arise. One notebook covers up to 20 days of interrogations.
The Osaka Bar Association in 2003 introduced a notebook in Japanese in an effort to make interrogations more transparent, and the federation decided in 2004 to introduce the notebooks nationwide.
In a 2007 case, the Osaka District Court ruled that a suspect’s notes detailing police assaults were partially credible, while in 2009, the Kyoto District Court ruled that a suspect’s interrogation was illegal based on the suspect’s notes.
“The notes (in foreign languages) are to help achieve full transparency in interrogations,” a federation official said. “We will make further improvements, including making the notes available in other languages.”
The notebook can be downloaded at www.nichibenren.or.jp/library/ja/legal_aid/on-duty_lawyer/data/higisha_note_e.pdf