What happens after an arrest in Japan?

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Japanese law allows the police to detain a suspect after arrest for up to 48 hours.  During this period, the police must inform the suspect of the crime he or she is suspected of having committed, of the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer (provided for free if the suspect does not have the money).  In the case of foreign suspects, the police should also ask if the suspect would like his or her consulate informed of the arrest.  Before the 48 hours expire, the police also must choose whether to refer the suspect and supporting evidence to the public prosecutor’s office or let the suspect go. 

If the police refer the suspect to the prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor then has 24 hours within which to obtain permission from a judge for pre-indictment detention.  If granted by a judge, this detention can last up to 23 days (including the initial 72 hours spent in the custody of the police and prosecutor’s office).  This pre-indictment detention will usually take place at a police jail or detention house.

In Japan, suspects that have been detained after an arrest are obligated to appear at the offices of the police or public prosecutor for questioning at the police or prosecutor’s request.  However, the suspect has the right to remain silent and should be notified as such before the questioning begins.  Confessions must be voluntarily given in order to be admissible in court.

Bail is not normally awarded in Japan and usually will only be granted in special cases.  For foreign defendants it is almost never awarded.  Foreign defendants will be kept in the same jail or detention facility as Japanese suspects while they await trial.