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Arrest of a U.S. Citizen


Officers of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates overseas are prohibited by 22 CFR 91.81 from acting as agents, attorneys or in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of U.S. citizens abroad. U.S. Department of State personnel, including its attorneys, do not provide legal advice to private citizens.

Any information relating to conditions within a specific foreign country is provided as a courtesy, for general information only, and does not constitute legal advice. The Department of State makes no representation regarding the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of this information. Questions about foreign laws and legal systems should be addressed to appropriate attorneys.

The Japanese legal and penal system is different than in the United States. The following account is intended to provide general information about what to expect from the point of arrest through investigation, indictment, conviction, sentencing and service of a prison term if the case is not dismissed. These descriptions are general only, and your case might proceed differently. You should not rely on this information for the purpose of making legal decisions; the only true authority for your case is your lawyer.

Providing assistance to U.S. citizens arrested or detained abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. The U.S. Department of State is committed to the welfare of U.S. citizens detained overseas. Our embassies and consulates stand ready to assist citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international, domestic and foreign law. The Embassy/Consulates will make every effort to ensure that U.S. citizens are treated in accordance with Japanese laws and regulations.

While in Japan one is subject to the same laws as is a Japanese citizen. A U.S. passport does not entitle its bearer to any special privileges. One should not expect to receive preferential treatment or to expect that the same array of legal rights accorded one under the U.S. judicial system are necessarily applicable in Japan.