Japan set up its DNA database in 2004 and introduced legislation in 2005. A survey conducted by Interpol reports that as of 2008 9,611 crime scene DNA profiles and 16,346 individuals' profiles were recorded in the national DNA database. According to Interpol, Japan's DNA database grew considerably to 119,754 crime scene DNA profiles and 26,932 reference DNA profiles from individuals in 2011. No DNA database legislation had been adopted at that time.
In Japan, there are no special rules regarding the admissibility of DNA evidence. Rather, the same rules as apply to scientific evidence generally are applied. These rules are not statutory; they have been crafted from the bench in the form of precedent. Persons can only be coerced into surrendering a DNA sample upon a written warren; however, no warrant is required for the police to collect samples that have voluntarily or inadvertently become separated from that person, i.e. in their garbage, etc.
- External links
- Press articles
- Tansa: On the Hunt for DNA (2020)
- Military.com: Bone Collector: Nonprofit Dedicated to Recovering WWII Remains (6 October 2015)
- The Japan Times: More than 10,000 people with dementia reported missing in Japan last year (25th June 2015)
- The Japan News: Govt to use database, expanded DNA tests to speed identification of war dead (20th May 2015)
- Boxer on death row for 48 years proven innocent after a DNA test (27th March 2014)
- Khaleej Times: Nepalese demands compensation after 15 years in Japan jail (30th December 2012)
- Asahi Shimbun: NEC developing portable crime-fighting device to reduce time in identifying DNA (30th November 2012)
- Japan Times: Four prefectural police HQs get DNA analyzers (31st January 2012)
- Japan Times: DNA database planned to help identify bodies (4th May 2011)
- Phys.org: Japan police plan DNA database to identify tsunami dead (3rd May 2011)
- The Japan Times: Group attempts DNA database for workers in high-risk zones (24th March 2010)
- Japan Times: DNA data entry snafu fingers innocent man (21st March 2010)
- The Japan Times: DNA test findings lead to lifer's release (5th June 2009)
The first DNA test to lead to a conviction in Japan is overturned following further testing, leading to the release of a wrongly convicted man after 17 years in jail.
- The Japan Times: Lifer's DNA retested, erasing link to girl slain in '90 (22nd April 2009)
- The Japan Times: Public wariness hampers police (8th October 2008)
- Japan Times: DNA database had hits in 245 crimes (17th March 2006)
- Japan Times: Safeguards for a DNA database (5th August 2005)
- Japan Times: NPA to launch unsolved-crime DNA database (17th December 2004)
I. Law on Point
DNA Handling and Recording Regulations<ref name="ftn1"> DNA型記録取扱規則 [DNA Handling and Recording Regulations], National Public Safety Commission Regulation No. 50 of 2005.</ref>
Police Instructions on DNA<ref name="ftn2"> DNA型記録取扱細則 [Detailed Rules for DNA Handling and Recording], Police Instruction No. 8 of 26 August 2005.</ref>
There are no special rules of evidence for the admissibility of DNA test results. The general rule for the admissibility of scientific evidence applies in the same way. This rule is not statutory but based on judicial precedent .It consists of two judgment factors. One is that the scientific test concerned has a general reliability, and the other is that the test was carried out properly in the case in question. The latter means that the collect-ion, storage and testing of samples must be properly conducted.
There is only one case in which the Supreme Court has decided on the admissibility of DNA test results.<ref name="ftn3"> Saiko-Saibansho Keiji-Hanreishu, vol 54 No 6, 17 July 2000, 550.</ref> The Court ruled in a murder case that the result of a NICT115 type DNA test conducted by the police was admissible, because the scientific principle of the MCT118 type test has theoretical accuracy, and the test in this case was conducted in a scientifically exact way by a person who possessed the requisite skills for conducting the test. This decision was basically based on the above general rule.
Besides this, some courts have referred to the possibility of a second testing of samples in fudging the admissibility of DNA test results. However, the Supreme Court had not found that it should be a requirement in determining admissibility.
Defense lawyers usually challenge DNA evidence by insisting that it does not meet the above-mentioned requirements for the admissibility of scientific evidence. There is one case in which the admissibility of the DNA test result was denied on the ground that the storage and test of the sample, which was hair in this case, had been improper.<ref name="ftn4"> Hanrei-Jihou, No 1543, 30 June 1995, 181 (Fukuoka Appellate Court).</ref>
The courts have found in several cases that DNA test results could be an important piece of evidence in establishing a person’s guilt, but there still has been no case in which the defendant was found guilty based only on DNA test results. Rather, the courts evaluate DNA test results together with other evidence, or use them as corroborative evidence. In the above-mentioned case„ the Supreme Court pointed out that the credibility of the DNA test results should be checked cautiously. In this sense, Japan’s courts are still prudent in judging the evidentiary value of DNA test results.
II. Entry Criteria
Under Japanese law, DNA samples may be taken and tested when the investigation starts. In order for these procedures to take place it is not necessary that either the suspect be arrested, or that criminal charges be filed.
III. Sample Collection
The formalities required in relation to the collection of samples will vary depending on the manner the collection of samples takes. On the one hand, when it is conducted on a compulsory basis, for example, a blood sample from a suspect is taken against his will, a warrant issued by a judge is necessary without exception. On the other hand, when it is conducted on a non-compulsory basis, for example, when the police collect the hairs of a suspect from a garbage can put out by that suspect, no warrant is necessary.
Generally speaking, force that is necessary and reasonable in order to enforce the warrant may be used For example, if the suspect resists the taking of his or her blood sample, the police can hold his or her body down to suppress resistance and restrain him or her forcibly.
According to Japanese law, there is no differentiation between persons in relation to the collection of samples. In effect, therefore, the same rules apply to all people who are suspects.
VI. Sample Retention
Japan has a statute dealing with the retention of records of criminal trials (the Finalized Criminal Suit Document Law 1987). This law provides the period for which records of criminal trials mmt be retained. DNA test results, which usually appear as written expert opinion., must also be retained under this law when they were presented as evidence at trial. The period of retention is from three to 50 years, according to the seriousness of the crime in question, The Public Prosecutor’s Office is responsible for their retention.
This law does not apply to DNA samples and test results that were not presented at trial. The internal regulation of the Public Prosecutor’s Office provide-5 the period for which they are tube stored. On the other hand, there are no statutory rules that provide for when samples and test results must be destroyed. However, in the internal guidelines of the police for the practice of DNA tests, the rest of blood samples taken on a warrant must be destroyed after the test has been completed. Thus, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the police can retain and store other samples and DNA test results.
VI. Sample Retention
When DNA test results are objects of the above-mentioned Finalized Criminal Suit Document Law, they can be released to everyone, with some exceptions. The release of other DNA test results depends upon who requests them. When other investigation authorities request them, the results are released, because all public offices are obligated to co-operate with an investigation (Article 197(1), Code of Criminal Procedure). On the other hand, when other government authorities or private citizens request them, they wit l not be released because of the duty to protect secrets.