Your Rights in Japan

Posted on December 18, 2011 | Posted by evankirby

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We recently put together a short guide on rights in Japan, in case any of our Japanese language school students ever find themselves in a situation where they need to know. But we decided it's better for everyone to know this, so here it is:

• The punishment for drug possession is severe; even a “low level” drug, such as cannabis will be considered severe and the punishment just as harsh. Drug crimes are sometimes prosecuted on urine/blood tests alone.

Police stops:
• You have the right to refuse a search. You/your property may not be searched without a warrant.
• Unless arrested, you are not obligated to accompany police to the station. It is generally best not to.
• You must carry your passport or alien registration card AT ALL TIMES as police are entitled to stop anyone, at any time and ask for identification.

Arrests and Questioning:
• If you are held for questioning, you will be allowed contact with family, embassy, lawyer etc after no more than 3 days.
• During interrogation you have no access to a lawyer or interpreter until a formal charge is made.
• The longest you may be held without charge is 28 days.
• When people visit you, an interpreter must be present or you will be forced to speak in Japanese.
• If you are arrested in Japan you may request that your Embassy is notified.
Key phrases:
れいじょうはありますか。 Do you have a warrant?
わたしはたいほされていますか。 Am I under arrest?

• Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5cm/2in is illegal.

• An International Driving Permit issued in your home country is required of anyone wishing to drive in Japan.
• Japanese law provides that all drivers in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties.
• Japan has a national zero percent blood-alcohol level standard for driving.

Human Rights:
• Discrimination is illegal on the basis of race, color, creed or family origin.
• In Japan LGBT rights are not recognized - except in the Tokyo ward where employment discrimination is illegal.

Luckily no GenkiJACS students have gotten in serious trouble with the police yet, and we hope to keep up this record in the future.
For more details on your rights in Japan, check out Arudou Debito's website.
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