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Encyclopedia > Law enforcement in Japan

Japan's police are an apolitical body under the general supervision of an independent agency, the National Police Agency, and free of direct central government executive control. They are checked by an independent judiciary and monitored by a free and active press. The police are generally well respected and can rely on considerable public cooperation in their work. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1280x960, 1289 KB) TOYOTA 170 system Crown police car This police car is vehicles while defending the China pavilion of Expo 2005 Aichi japan. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1280x960, 1289 KB) TOYOTA 170 system Crown police car This police car is vehicles while defending the China pavilion of Expo 2005 Aichi japan. ... For the company, see Aichi Steel Corporation. ... This article is about the automaker. ... Crown names several entities associated with monarchy: A crown (headgear), the headgear worn by a monarch, other high dignitaries, divinities etcetera. ... The National Police Agency (警察庁 Keisatsucho) is the central coordinating body of the Japanese police system. ... In the judicial system of Japan, the postwar constitution guarantees that all judges shall be independent in the exercise of their conscience and shall be bound only by this constitution and the Laws (Article 76). ... The communications media of Japan include numerous television and radio networks as well as newspapers and magazines. ...



The Japanese government established a European-style civil police system in 1874, under the centralized control of the Police Bureau within the Home Ministry, to put down internal disturbances and maintain order during the Meiji Restoration. By the 1880s, the police had developed into a nationwide instrument of government control, providing support for local leaders and enforcing public morality. They acted as general civil administrators, implementing official policies and thereby facilitating unification and modernization. In rural areas especially, the police had great authority and were accorded the same mixture of fear and respect as the village head. Their increasing involvement in political affairs was one of the foundations of the authoritarian state in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. This article describes the structure of the Japanese Government. ... Year 1874 (MDCCCLXXIV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link with display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... The Home Ministry (内務省 naimushō) managed the internal affairs of Japan from its founding in 1873, during the Meiji Restoration, to its dissolution during the occupation period in 1947. ... The Meiji Restoration ), also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, or Renewal, was a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japans political and social structure. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

The centralized police system steadily acquired responsibilities, until it controlled almost all aspects of daily life, including fire prevention and mediation of labor disputes. The system regulated public health, business, factories, and construction, and it issued permits and licenses. The Peace Preservation Law of 1925 gave police the authority to arrest people for "wrong thoughts." Special Higher Police (Tokko) were created to regulate the content of motion pictures, political meetings, and election campaigns. Military police (Kempeitai) operating under the army and navy and the justice and home ministries aided the civilian police in limiting proscribed political activity. After the Manchurian Incident of 1931, military police assumed greater authority, leading to friction with their civilian counterparts. After 1937 police directed business activities for the war effort, mobilized labor, and controlled transportation. A Canadian firefighter A firefighter or fireman is trained and equipped to extinguish fires. ... Public health is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. ... The Peace Preservation Law (Japanese: 治安維持法; Chian-ijihô) was a Japanese law passed in 1925 as a mechanism for the royal family to entrench itself against a growing left wing. ... Year 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Tokko (Tokubetsu Koto Keisatsu or Special Higher Police) was a police force established in 1901 in Japan. ... The Kempeitai (憲兵隊, Corps of Law Soldiers) was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945. ... Categories: Government of Japan | Stub ... The Home Ministry (内務省 naimushō) managed the internal affairs of Japan from its founding in 1873, during the Meiji Restoration, to its dissolution during the occupation period in 1947. ... One aspect of the Manchurian Incident (January 1931) was an engagement of the Imperial Japanese Army with Chinese forces. ...

After Japan's surrender in 1945, occupation authorities retained the prewar police structure until a new system was implemented and the Diet passed the 1947 Police Law. Contrary to Japanese proposals for a strong, centralized force to deal with postwar unrest, the police system was decentralized. About 1,600 independent municipal forces were established in cities, towns, and villages with 5,000 inhabitants or more, and a National Rural Police was organized by prefecture. Civilian control was to be ensured by placing the police under the jurisdiction of public safety commissions controlled by the National Public Safety Commission in the Office of the Prime Minister. The Home Ministry was abolished and replaced by the less powerful Ministry of Home Affairs, and the police were stripped of their responsibility for fire protection, public health, and other administrative duties. The Japanese representatives on board USS Missouri during the surrender ceremonies on 2 September 1945. ... Capital Tokyo Language(s) Japanese Political structure Military occupation Military Governor  - 1945-1951 Douglas MacArthur  - 1951-1952 Matthew Ridgway Emperor  - 1926-1989 Hirohito Historical era Post-WWII  - Surrender of Japan August 15, 1945  - San Francisco Treaty April 28, 1952 At the end of the Second World War, Japan was occupied... The National Diet of Japan (国会; Kokkai) is Japans legislature. ... The National Public Safety Commission ) is a Japanese Cabinet Office commission. ... Emblem of the Office of Prime Minister of Japan Kantei, Official residence of PM The Prime Minister of Japan ) is the usual English-language term used for the head of government of Japan, although the literal translation of the Japanese name for the office is Prime Minister of the Cabinet. ...

When most of the occupation forces were transferred to Korea in 1950-51, the 75,000 strong National Police Reserve was formed to back up the ordinary police during civil disturbances, and pressure mounted for a centralized system more compatible with Japanese political preferences. The 1947 Police Law was amended in 1951 to allow the municipal police of smaller communities to merge with the National Rural Police. Most chose this arrangement, and by 1954 only about 400 cities, towns, and villages still had their own police forces. Under the 1954 amended Police Law, a final restructuring created an even more centralized system in which local forces were organized by prefectures under a National Police Agency. This article is about the Korean peninsula and civilization. ... The National Police Agency (警察庁 Keisatsucho) is the central coordinating body of the Japanese police system. ...

The revised Police Law of 1954, still in effect in the 1990s, preserves some strong points of the postwar system, particularly measures ensuring civilian control and political neutrality, while allowing for increased centralization. The National Public Safety Commission system has been retained. State responsibility for maintaining public order has been clarified to include coordination of national and local efforts; centralization of police information, communications, and recordkeeping facilities; and national standards for training, uniforms, pay, rank, and promotion. Rural and municipal forces were abolished and integrated into prefectural forces, which handled basic police matters. Officials and inspectors in various ministries and agencies continue to exercise special police functions assigned to them in the 1947 Police Law.

National Organization

National Public Safety Commission

The mission of the National Public Safety Commission is to guarantee the neutrality of the police by insulating the force from political pressure and to ensure the maintenance of democratic methods in police administration. The commission's primary function is to supervise the National Police Agency, and it has the authority to appoint or dismiss senior police officers. The commission consists of a chairman, who holds the rank of minister of state, and five members appointed by the prime minister with the consent of both houses of the Diet. The commission operates independently of the cabinet, but liaison and coordination with it are facilitated by the chairman's being a member of that body. The National Public Safety Commission ) is a Japanese Cabinet Office commission. ...

National Police Agency

As the central coordinating body for the entire police system, the National Police Agency determines general standards and policies; detailed direction of operations is left to the lower echelons. In a national emergency or large-scale disaster, the agency is authorized to take command of prefectural police forces. In 1989 the agency was composed of about 1,100 national civil servants, empowered to collect information and to formulate and execute national policies. The agency is headed by a commissioner general who is appointed by the National Public Safety Commission with the approval of the prime minister.

The Central Office includes the Secretariat, with divisions for general operations, planning, information, finance, management, and procurement and distribution of police equipment, and five bureaus. Secretariat may refer to: A racehorse who won the Triple Crown in 1973, see Secretariat (horse) In a Communist Party, a Secretariat is a key body that controls the central administration of the party, and if it is a ruling party, the country. ...

Police Administration Bureau

The Administration Bureau is concerned with police personnel, education, welfare, training, and unit inspections.

Criminal Investigation Bureau

The Criminal Investigation Bureau is in charge of research statistics and the investigation of nationally important and international cases. This bureau's Safety Department is responsible for crime prevention, combating juvenile delinquency, and pollution control. In addition, the Criminal Investigation Bureau surveys, formulates, and recommends legislation on firearms, explosives, food, drugs, and narcotics. The Communications Bureau supervises police communications systems.

Traffic Bureau
Japanese Patrol van in Osaka
Japanese Patrol van in Osaka

The Traffic Bureau licenses drivers, enforces traffic safety laws, and regulates traffic. Intensive traffic safety and driver education campaigns are run at both national and prefectural levels. The bureau's Expressway Division addresses special conditions of the nation's growing system of express highways. ImageMetadata File history File links Patrol_car2. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Patrol_car2. ... Osaka )   is a city in Japan, located at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, in the Kansai region of the main island of HonshÅ«. The city is the capital of Osaka Prefecture. ...

Security Bureau

The Security Bureau formulates and supervises the execution of security policies. It conducts research on equipment and tactics for suppressing riots and oversaw and coordinates activities of the riot police. The Security Bureau is also responsible for security intelligence on foreigners and radical political groups, including investigation of violations of the Alien Registration Law and administration of the Entry and Exit Control Law. The bureau also implements security policies during national emergencies and natural disasters.

Regional Public Safety Bureaus

The National Police Agency has seven regional police bureaus, each responsible for a number of prefectures. Headed by Directors, they are organizationally similar to the Central Office.

Police Communications Divisions

Metropolitan Tokyo and the island of Hokkaidō are excluded from the regional jurisdictions and are run more autonomously than other local forces, in the case of Tokyo, because of its special urban situation, and of Hokkaidō, because of its distinctive geography. The National Police Agency maintains police communications divisions in these two areas to handle any coordination needed between national and local forces. For other uses, see Tokyo (disambiguation). ...   literally North Sea Circuit, Ainu: Mosir), formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japans second largest island and the largest of its 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. ...

Local organization

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Office in Marunouchi
Tokyo Metropolitan Police Office in Marunouchi

There are some 258,000 police officers nationwide, about 97 percent of whom were affiliated with local police forces. Local forces include: Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 591 pixelsFull resolution (2499 × 1845 pixel, file size: 828 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Copyrighted by っ Also CC-by-2. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 591 pixelsFull resolution (2499 × 1845 pixel, file size: 828 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Copyrighted by っ Also CC-by-2. ... In front of the Marunouchi gate of Tokyo Station The Marunouchi gate of Tokyo Station Skyline of Marunouchi district, viewed from Imperial Palace gardens Marunouchi (丸の内) is a commercial district of Tokyo located in Chiyoda between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace. ...

  • forty-three prefectural (ken) police forces;
  • Tokyo Metropolitan (to) police force, in Tokyo;
  • two urban prefectural (fu) police forces, in Osaka and Kyoto; and
  • one district (dō) police force, in Hokkaidō.

These forces have limited authority to initiate police actions. Their most important activities are regulated by the National Police Agency, which provides funds for equipment, salaries, riot control, escort, and natural disaster duties, and for internal security and multiple jurisdiction cases. National police statutes and regulations establish the strength and rank allocations of all local personnel and the locations of local police stations. Prefectural police finance and control the patrol officer on the beat, traffic control, criminal investigations, and other daily operations. The National Police Agency (警察庁 Keisatsucho) is the central coordinating body of the Japanese police system. ...

Prefectural Police

Each prefectural police headquarters contains administrative divisions corresponding to those of the bureaus of the National Police Agency. Headquarters are staffed by specialists in basic police functions and administration and are commanded by an officer appointed by the local office of the National Public Safety Commission. Most arrests and investigations are performed by prefectural police officials (and, in large jurisdictions, by police assigned to substations), who are assigned to one or more central locations within the prefecture. Experienced officers are organized into functional bureaus and handle all but the most ordinary problems in their fields.

Police Boxes

Below these stations, police boxes (koban)—substations near major transportation hubs and shopping areas and in residential districts—form the first line of police response to the public. About 20 percent of the total police force is assigned to koban. Staffed by three or more officers working in eight-hour shifts, they serve as a base for foot patrols and usually have both sleeping and eating facilities for officers on duty but not on watch. In rural areas, residential offices usually are staffed by one police officer who resides in adjacent family quarters. These officers endeavor to become a part of the community, and their families often aid in performing official tasks. This koban is a landmark in the Ginza district of Tokyo A kōban (交番) is a Japanese police box. ...

Officers assigned to koban have intimate knowledge of their jurisdictions. One of their primary tasks is to conduct twice-yearly house-by-house residential surveys of homes in their areas, at which time the head of the household at each address fills out a residence information card detailing the names, ages, occupations, business addresses, and vehicle registration numbers of household occupants and the names of relatives living elsewhere. Police take special note of names of the aged or those living alone who might need special attention in an emergency. They conduct surveys of local businesses and record employee names and addresses, in addition to such data as which establishments stay open late and which employees might be expected to work late. Participation in the survey is voluntary, and most citizens cooperate, but an increasing segment of the population has come to regard the surveys as invasions of privacy.

Information elicited through the surveys is not centralized but is stored in each police box, where it is used primarily as an aid to locating people. When a crime occurs or an investigation is under way, however, these files are invaluable in establishing background data for a case. Specialists from district police stations spend considerable time culling through the usually poorly filed data maintained in the police boxes. A police box is a telephone kiosk or callbox for use by members of the police. ...

Riot police

Within their security divisions, each prefectural level police department and the Tokyo police maintain Kidotai's, special riot units. These units were formed after riots at the Imperial Palace in 1952, to respond quickly and effectively to large public disturbances. They are also used in crowd control during festival periods, at times of natural disaster, and to reinforce regular police when necessary. Full-time riot police can also be augmented by regular police trained in riot duties. Currently, there are 10,000 in the whole riot force.

In handling demonstrations and violent disturbances, riot units are deployed en masse, military style. It is common practice for files of riot police to line streets through which demonstrations passed. If demonstrators grows disorderly or deviated from officially countenanced areas, riot police stand shoulder-to- shoulder, sometimes three and four deep, to push with their hands to control the crowds. Individual action is forbidden. Three-person units sometimes perform reconnaissance duties, but more often operations are carried out by squads of nine to eleven, platoons of twenty-seven to thirty-three, and companies of eighty to one hundred. Front ranks are trained to open to allow passage of special squads to rescue captured police or to engage in tear gas assaults. Each person wears a radio with an earpiece to hear commands given simultaneously to the formation.

The riot police are committed to using disciplined, nonlethal force and carry no firearms. They are trained to take pride in their poise under stress. Demonstrators also are usually restrained. Police brutality is rarely an issue. When excesses occur, the perpetrator is disciplined and sometimes transferred from the force if considered unable to keep his temper.

Extensive experience in quelling violent disorders led to the development of special uniforms and equipment for the riot police units. Riot dress consists of a field-type jacket, which covered several pieces of body armor and includes a corselet hung from the waist, an aluminum plate down the backbone, and shoulder pads. Armored gauntlets cover the hands and forearms. Helmets have faceplates and flared padded skirts down the back to protect the neck. In case of violence, the front ranks carry 1.2-meter shields to protect against staves and rocks and hold nets on high poles to catch flying objects. Specially designed equipment includes water cannons, armored vans, and mobile tunnels for protected entry into seized buildings.

Because riot police duties require special group action, units are maintained in virtually self-sufficient compounds and trained to work as a coordinated force. The overwhelming majority of officers are bachelors who live in dormitories within riot police compounds. Training is constant and focuses on physical conditioning, mock battles, and tactical problems. A military atmosphere prevails--dress codes, behavior standards, and rank differentiations are more strictly adhered to than in the regular police. Esprit de corps is inculcated with regular ceremonies and institutionalization of rituals such as applauding personnel dispatched to or returning from assignments and formally welcoming senior officers to the mess hall at all meals.

Riot duty is not popular because it entails special sacrifices and much boredom in between irregularly spaced actions. Although many police are assigned riot duty, only a few are volunteers. For many personnel, riot duty serves as a stepping stone because of its reputation and the opportunities it presents to study for the advanced police examinations necessary for promotion. Because riot duties demands physical fitness--the armored uniform weighed 6.6 kilograms--most personnel are young, often serving in the units after an initial assignment in a koban.

Special police

Martial Arts Attack Team special riot officer moves in to assist Special Assault Team units to arrest Hisato Obayashi, who had killed an SAT officer while trying to assist a wounded officer investigating Obayashi in a domestic dispute turned hostage crisis.
Martial Arts Attack Team special riot officer moves in to assist Special Assault Team units to arrest Hisato Obayashi, who had killed an SAT officer while trying to assist a wounded officer investigating Obayashi in a domestic dispute turned hostage crisis.

In addition to regular police officers, there are several thousand officials attached to various agencies who perform special duties relating to public safety. They are responsible for such matters as railroad security, forest preservation, narcotics control, fishery inspection, and enforcement of regulations on maritime, labor, and mine safety. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The Special Assault Team ) is the official civilian Counter-Terrorist unit under the Japanese National Police Agency. ...

The largest and most important of these ministry-supervised public safety agencies is the Maritime Safety Agency, an external bureau of the Ministry of Transportation that deals with crime in coastal waters and maintains facilities for safeguarding navigation. The agency operates a fleet of patrol and rescue craft in addition to a few aircraft used primarily for anti-smuggling patrols and rescue activities. In 1990 there were 2,846 incidents in and on the waters. In those incidents, 1,479 people drowned or were lost and 1,347 people were rescued. Main building of the Japan Coast Guard The Japan Coast Guard (also known as the Maritime Safety Agency) is the Japanese Coast Guard. ...

There are other agencies having limited public safety functions. These agencies include the Labor Standards Inspection Office of the Ministry of Labor, railroad police of Japan Railways Group, immigration agents of the Ministry of Justice, postal inspectors of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, and revenue inspectors in the Ministry of Finance. Map showing the approximate areas covered by each company in the JR Group. ...

A small intelligence agency, the Public Security Investigation Agency of the Ministry of Justice, handles national security matters both inside and outside the country. Its activities are not generally known to the public.

The National Police Agency has a counter-terrorist unit known as the Special Assault Team, operating under police control. The Special Assault Team ) is the official civilian Counter-Terrorist unit under the Japanese National Police Agency. ...

A small number of anti-riot-trained police officers had been trained to handle incidents that can't be dealt with by regular and riot police officers, but can operate independently or with SAT cooperation. These units include the Special Investigations Team of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, the Osaka Police's Martial Arts Attack Team and the Chiba Police's Attack Response Team.

Conditions of Service

Education is highly stressed in police recruitment and promotion. Entrance to the force is determined by examinations administered by each prefecture. Examinees are divided into two groups: upper-secondary-school graduates and university graduates. Recruits underwent rigorous training—one year for upper-secondary school graduates and six months for university graduates—at the residential police academy attached to the prefectural headquarters. On completion of basic training, most police officers are assigned to local police boxes. Promotion is achieved by examination and requires further course work. In-service training provides mandatory continuing education in more than 100 fields. Police officers with upper-secondary school diplomas are eligible to take the examination for sergeant after three years of on-the-job experience. University graduates can take the examination after only one year. University graduates are also eligible to take the examination for assistant police inspector, police inspector, and superintendent after shorter periods than upper-secondary school graduates. There are usually five to fifteen examinees for each opening.

About fifteen officers per year pass advanced civil service examinations and are admitted as senior officers. Officers are groomed for administrative positions, and, although some rise through the ranks to become senior administrators, most such positions are held by specially recruited senior executives.

The police forces are subject to external oversight. Although officials of the National Public Safety Commission generally defer to police decisions and rarely exercise their powers to check police actions or operations, police are liable for civil and criminal prosecution, and the media actively publicizes police misdeeds. The Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice solicits and investigates complaints against public officials, including police, and prefectural legislatures could summon police chiefs for questioning. Social sanctions and peer pressure also constrain police behavior. As in other occupational groups in Japan, police officers develop an allegiance to their own group and a reluctance to offend its principles.


In Japan, the average patrol cruisers are Toyota Crowns and similar large sedans. Pursuit vehicles depend on prefectures. Honda NSX, Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Evolution, Nissan Skyline, Mazda RX-7 are all used in various prefectures for highway patrols and pursuit uses. The Toyota Crown is a line of full-size luxury sedans by Toyota. ... The Honda NSX (Acura NSX in North America and Hong Kong) was a sports car produced between 1990 and 2005 by the Japanese automaker Honda. ... For the high-performance versions of the Impreza, see Subaru Impreza WRX and Subaru Impreza WRX STi The Subaru Impreza is a compact car that was first introduced by Subaru in 1993. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Nissan Skyline is a mid-size car originally produced by the Japanese automaker Prince Motor Company starting in 1957 and later by Nissan Motor Co. ... The Mazda RX-7 (also called the Ẽfini RX-7) is a sports car produced by the Japanese automaker Mazda from 1978 to 2002. ...

Police-Community Relations

Despite legal limits on police jurisdiction, many citizens retain their views of the police as authority figures to whom they can turn for aid. The public often seeks police assistance to settle family quarrels, counsel juveniles, and mediate minor disputes. Citizens regularly consult police for directions to hotels and residences--an invaluable service in cities where streets are often unnamed and buildings are numbered in the order in which they have been built rather than consecutively. Police are encouraged by their superiors to view these tasks as answering the public's demands for service and as inspiring community confidence in the police. Public attitudes toward the police are generally favorable, although a series of incidents of forced confessions in the late 1980s raised some concern about police treatment of suspects held for pretrial detention.[citation needed]

Historical secret police organizations

The Tokko (Tokubetsu Koto Keisatsu or Special Higher Police) was a police force established in 1901 in Japan. ... The Kempeitai (憲兵隊, Corps of Law Soldiers) was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945. ...

See also

The Shinsengumi (Japanese: 新選組 or 新撰組) were a special police force of the late shogunate period. ...




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