Courts, Corrections, and Probation
Table 8.1 (pp. 150-151) provides a breakdown ofthe length ofvarious criminal court proceedings during 1993. Japan has not adopted an arraignment system whereby it is sufficient for a defendant to plead guilty. The system requires additional evidence beyond a confession. Often, in complex cases, the defense counsel, judge(s), and a public prosecutor have apreparatory meeting in order for the trial to proceed smoothly (UNAFEI 1998). Actual evidence is not disclosed in these meetings until court proceedings are underway, as the judges (not a jury) are the fact finders. Once again, written evidence can be accepted by the court ifwitnesses or defendants are to appear or change earlier oral statements given to investigators. Furthermore, ifthe testimony ofwitnesses contradicts earlier statements, the written statement can be used by the prosecutor to impeach the in-court account. Unlike the Anglo-American criminal procedure, the trial process is not separated into the trial and sentencing stages. As in many European courts, at the time of the closing statement, public prosecutors often express their opinions as to the appropriate punishment.