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Arrest Procedures: The First 72 Hours

Under Japanese law, you may be arrested and detained without bail for 48 hours by the police on suspicion of having committed a crime. During this period, the police are required to inform you of the crime of which you are suspected, of your right to remain silent, of your right to hire a lawyer at your own expense, of your right to request a court-appointed lawyer, and of your right to have the Embassy or the Consulate notified of your arrest.

If an arrestee is unable to hire a lawyer, he or she can request a court-appointed lawyer.  However, the police usually begin their initial questioning before you have an opportunity to see a lawyer.

If the police believe they have enough evidence to detain you, they must present this evidence to a public prosecutor within the initial 48-hour detention period. The suspect appears before the prosecutor when the police present the evidence. If the prosecutor concurs, he/she must then obtain a warrant of detention from a judge within 24 hours. Again, the suspect would appear before the judge when the warrant is requested. A case could be dropped at either of these stages for lack of evidence, or the investigation may continue.

If an arrestee is unable to hire an attorney, he or she may be entitled to receive a court- appointed attorney if certain conditions are met.  If you are interested in a court-appointed attorney, please advise the police, the prosecutor, or the judge.

NOTE:  Anyone arrested can request for an attorney on duty (Toban Bengoshi) from the nearest bar association who can visit you once free of charge.  Simply ask the police to contact the “Toban Bengoshi” for you.  The police has telephone numbers for the nearest bar association for “Toban Bengoshi.”  This information is also available on the Japan Federation of Bar Associations website.


Bail is the exception rather than the rule in Japan and  virtually unheard of for foreigners on visitor status. Regardless, bail is not approved until you are indicted.  If you are arrested in Japan you will in all likelihood remain in jail until you are indicted or released. Suspects are usually kept at the local jail where they were arrested and generally eat the same Japanese style food as the other prisoners.