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Under Investigation: The Next 20 Days

If the judge agrees there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the court will issue an initial 10 day detention order to permit the prosecutor to continue their investigation. At the end of this 10 day period, the prosecutor can request a second 10 day detention period to continue the investigation further.  The arrestee will normally appear before the judge at each of these hearings and may be asked to testify on his/her own behalf.

At the end of this 20 – 23 day detention period, the prosecutor must either ask the court for a formal indictment or release the prisoner. Of course, an indictment could be sought sooner if enough evidence is readily available or the prisoner could be released sooner if adequate evidence is not forthcoming.

Daily Life In Jail / Detention: Communication

Suspects jailed in Japan are prohibited from making or receiving phone calls. The precise terms of your confinement will be spelled out by the prosecutor. For most drug cases, prosecutors place a suspect incommunicado which bars them from receiving visitors other than a lawyer or a Consul, and from corresponding with anyone other than their lawyer or (in most cases) the Embassy or Consulate.

Some suspects incommunicado may also be prohibited from receiving mail or reading material from the Embassy or Consulate, although they are usually allowed to meet in person with a Consul and to write to a Consul. Incommunicado orders may continue until the first trial date.

Suspects not incommunicado are able to write and receive letters from family and friends. The police routinely censor all outgoing and incoming mail, except for correspondence from lawyers or a Consul. Consequently, there may be delays in sending or receiving mail if it is not written in Japanese or Japanese translation is not attached since it must be translated for screening. You may be charged for translation fees if you write/receive letters in foreign language including English.


Suspects not incommunicado are permitted to receive visitors during normal business hours. The visitor is separated from the suspect by a window and all such visits must be monitored by a police officer.  Most police officers in Japan do not speak English.  Therefore, a visitor must bring an interpreter.  Visitors should check with the police station about the visiting hours and other requirements before any visit is made.

Clothing, Toiletries, Snacks, Etc.

Until they are convicted, suspects wear their own clothes. Laundry facilities are normally available only once a week, so suspects should make arrangements to have sufficient clothing.  The police  also supplies basic toiletry items, but visitors can supply familiar brands of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

Visitors are also permitted to provide books, magazines and newspapers. However, some police stations may refuse those written in foreign language.  News journals would be censored of any references to the suspect’s own or related crimes. At the police’s discretion, visitors can purchase snacks (including take-out meals) to supplement the normal jail food. Suspects can also purchase items through the police if they have no friends and relatives in Japan.