A year after the current situation. On March 11th. 2011, Japan passed through three tragedies: the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear accident. These events eclipsed the Prosecutor’s Office problem because people had their minds elsewhere.
On November 2010 the group of citizens for the Constitutional State defense (Nobuyo’s group), made a complaint against Tsunehiko Maeda for Abuse of Authority. The Prosecutor’s Office had previously accused him, but of a minor offense which is to hide evidence when they should have accused him of fabrication of evidence, and he refused to be processing taking as an excuse de authority abuse from the Group of Citizens for the Constitutional State. He demanded this claiming that there were not enough evidence to prosecute him. In January the negative answer from the Prosecutor’s Office arrived.
Meanwhile, the Independent panel to reform prosecutors, which was created to investigate all the irregularities occurred in the Muraki’s case, was disolved on March 31st. 2011, as planned, without elucidated much. The original idea was to lengthen the period of work of this Independant Counsel, to reform the Prosecution, but the incidents of the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear accident came to disturb the plans.
On May Maeda was sentenced to 2 years in prison without suspensión of execution of sentence. On the other hand, two Maeda’s heads were arrested for hiding the real ofender.
Also, the Political Secretary, Ozawa, was convicted for his Laws Regulations of Political Funding (seji-shikin-kisei-ho) without having strong evidence against him. To this, public opinión could not do more tan wonder. Next month the trial against Ozawa in which he was accused for his Laws Regulations of Political Funding, same as his secretary, started, also ensure thast they were accomplices.
Until the 14th of December, 2011, the Prosecutor had skillfully managed to salvage his reputation. But the 15th of that month the situation changed because it was the day of Ozawa trial and his defense lawyers gave a new eviddence in his favor. We have to remember that the accusation against Ozawa was not conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office (for lack of evidence), instead, as an exceptional way, the Committee for Inquest of Prosecution, which as we mentioned in our open letter, had arbitrarily attributed the right to impeach and arrest anyone even if there weren’t enough eviddence against them. This committee was the one who denounced Ichiro Ozawa, abusing their power, which corroborates that can be charged and arrest anyone, being a journalist, politician, governor or a citizen without proving their crime: which means that the Prosecutor dominates our country as an absolute power.
This Committee, attributing for the first time ever in history the role of Judge, accepted the lawsuit against Ozawa and asked to the Prosecutor to give them the entire file in order to start the investigation. According to this file, finally the Committee found the elements to accuse Ozawa, which was surptising because the Prosecutor’s Office had not found any accusatory evidence. The 15th of December, Ozawa’s defense lawyers discovered that among the “evidences” existed a false document for which it was publicly known that the Prosecutor fabricated evidence to inccriminate Ozawa. The evidence was that Masahiro Tashiro, an attorney for the Prosecution, testified in an oficial document that Ozawa’s secretary, named Tomohiro Ishikawa, confessed all crying. It was learned that the attorney Tashiro had invented the content of the interrogation, due to that the defendant Ishikawa had with him a tape recordeer and kept everything that happened. In the same recording, was found that at no time he had confessed his guilt and much less crying.
What was revealed on the 15th in the interrogation of the witness Ozawa, leftthe Prosecutor very bad off. The 16th, to top, there was another interrogation to Ozawa and the Committee prosecuting attorney called to declare the former attorney Maeda who was in jail serving his sentence. It was expected that Maeda, as a former Attorney , was going to declare for the Prosecutor. But surprisingly again, he declared against them and he clarified that when he worked in the Prosecution he saw how they took off records and evidences from the file which could favor Ozawa.
The 12th of January, the Group of Citizens for the Constitutional State denounced the attorney Masahiro Tashiro and the Prosecutor itself. The complaint against Tashiro was based on a creation of public text with false content, and against the Prosecutor for interference in the individual work for fraudulent statements.
We note that the Prosecution did not move a finger to arrest the attorney Tashiro. Because of that, after a month, the Group of Citizens for the Constitutional State was in the painful necessity of accused the prosecutor Tashiro. Also, they decided to denounce the Prosecutor’s Office for delivering false documents and tests have ruled in favor of the defendant, and in short, for interfered with the work of the Committee.
In public opinion that caused a scandal and the 18th of January the Jury not only declared that most of the evidences were useless, bute ven they view that what happened in the Prosecutor could be described as an organized crime.
The 2nd of April the Group of Citizens for the Constitutional State published an Open Letter claiming that the Prosecution did not arrest Tashiro and that they are doing nothing to advance the researchs. The Group of Citizens for the Constitutional State also expressed its concern over the rumors that ran about the posible existance of some information similar to the one made by the attorney Tashiro with the only motive to deceive the Committee, making imposible to judge Ozawa fairly.
The 26th of April the final judgment for Ozawa will take place. He shoul be declared innocent or to declare the trial invalid. Here we will know if in Japan there is a true democracy and if the justice system Works as it should work in a democracy.
Recently, we realized that the Public Prosecutor's Office is threatening democracy in Japan. In fact, previously, several human rights organisations claimed the anomalies of the Japanese judiciary system, pointing that the rate of guilty verdicts was more than 99%, which suggested that the judiciary power was practically under the control of the Prosecutor’s Office.
Japanese people are not surprised by this fact, but still believe in the infallibility of the Prosecutor’s Office, which is, of course, no more than a myth, and accept this abnormal situation in the judicial system. Especially, the Special Investigative Squad of the Prosecutor's Office (Toku-Soh), which is the section that is specialized for investigating political corruption, was often regarded as a star.
However, things have been changed just before the long-lasting ruling party of Japan, the Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), lost the key general election in 2009 and a new government by the Democrat Party Japan (DPJ) was established. Five months before this historic election, the Prosecutor's Office dared to accuse Ichiro Ozawa, who was the leader of DPJ at that moment and therefore to become the Prime Minister if the DPJ won in the election. The investigation on Ozawa by the Prosecutor’s Office had so many exceptions, and later, the suspicions on Ozawa were proved to be false. Because this was a very suspicious case, since then some people became clearly aware that the Prosecutor's Office arbitrarily used its power to oppress some politicians.
Besides, it has become known that prosecutors often force suspects and witnesses to sign legal “testimonies” that are actually written by the prosecutors to support their stories. Also, it became clear that prosecutors even used a kind of torture: for example, they even prohibit suspects/witnesses to access to medical attention that is necessary for them during “interrogations”, in order to force them to sign testimonies. Importantly, such “interrogations” led to suicides of suspects and/or witnesses in several serious cases.
Needless to say, suspects have the right to be assisted by lawyers in Japan. However, in many cases, lawyers play significant roles in this “prosecutors’ theater”, and even strongly recommend the accused to admit crimes in front of prosecutors in order to be released from detention. (Importantly, in Japan, suspects are usually kept under detention by prosecutors until they admit crimes.)
To make matters worse, over all these years, Japanese mass media has not made any efforts to be impartial to both prosecutors and suspicions, but just conveyed the prosecutors’ announcements.
Also, in Japan, people can claim to form a citizen committee that examines whether the Prosecutor’s Office works properly, namely, an alleged Committee for Inquest of Prosecution (Kensatsu-Shinsa-Kai). However, the committee is working in an inappropriate way: it seems that the committee started to claim for itself the right of accusation and arrest, without having sufficient evidence. In this year, after the Prosecutor’s Office failed to prosecute Ozawa in the above case, a Kensatsu-Shisa-Kai was formed to investigate the case, and finally, it decided that Ozawa should be prosecuted although it did not find any evidence. We are concerned that this was an abuse of its power. In other words, if this way is accepted, the committee can accuse anybody, no matter if he or she is a journalist, politician, or citizen, without any evidence. Given that the Prosecutor's Office has a dominant power in Japan and that Kensatsu-Shinsa-Kai can make arbitrary decisions to support the Office, these together can constitute an absolute authority.
We think that such an absolute authority, which can arbitrarily accuse people, must not exist in democratic society. In fact, recently, a serious scandal occurred in Toku-Soh, the Special Investigative Squad of the Prosecutor's Office: prosecutors fabricated evidence in the case of Mrs. Atsuko Muraki, in order to prosecute her, although prosecutors in fact knew that she was innocent.
Even mass media in Japan, which had been functioning as an advertisement section of the Prosecutor’s Office, could not ignore this scandal. Finally, the Minister of Justice had to mention "the problem of the Prosecutor's Office" and convene a panel to consider reform of the prosecutors’ system.
Notably, despite of serious criticism by Japanese people, the Prosecutor’s Office did not make any reforms but tried to minimize the scandal by blaming the officer in charge of Muraki’s case, and finally it announced that the scandal occurred because of his personal problem.
Accordingly, several lawyers, journalists, artists, intellectuals and a large number of citizens have gathered via internet, especially via Twitter, and started a movement for making complaints and requesting information regarding the scandal of the Prosecutor’s Office, in order to promote reform of the judicial system.
As a first step, we made a complaint to the officer in charge of the Muraki’s case for suspicions of abuse of authority. This is not only for accusing of his guilty, but for promoting reform of the entire judicial system, including both the regional offices and the Supreme Prosecutor, Toku-Soh. Thus, ironically, prosecutors have to carry out a complaint in order to prosecute themselves.
Also, it is worth noting that for the first time in the history of Japan, citizens made a criminal complaint against a bureaucratic agency.
Now, thousands of people are becoming aware of the corruption of Japanese mass media, which manipulates judicial and political information in favour of the Prosecutor’s Office. It is fascinating that these people are now connected via Twitter to claim and protest against them. Moreover, these people have started to rally on the street to protest against this abnormal judicial and political situation, something that has been extremely unusual in Japan.
Collectively, it is urgent to normalise the judicial system in order to protect human rights in Japan.
Group of citizens to defend the Constitutional State
Twitter : @shiminnokai21 (Japanese, English, Spanish available)
Download this statement
Download the indictment (Spanish)