Report No. 198
Japan has evolved a comprehensive Witness Protection Programme under its Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) which was amended on 18th August, 1999 and 19 th May, 2000.
Under section 96.1(4) in relation to section 89(5) of the CCP, an accused may be denied bail if there is reasonable ground to believe that he may threaten or may actually injure the body or damage the property of a victim or of a witness or relative of the victim/witness.
With the recent amendment of Japan's CCP, an attendant of the witness may be allowed to remain with the witness in the course of examination, and a screen may be set up between the witness and accused. One of the innovations introduced is the allowance of video link examination (w.e.f. November, 2001) where the witness, being out of the court room, answers the questions of the public prosecutor or the defence counsel who are in the court room (CCP 157-2-157-4).
According to CCP, in order to maintain order in the court, or when the judge believes that a witness will be unable to fully testify due to the presence of the accused or of spectators, the court may order such accused or spectators to withdraw from the court room during the examination of the witness.
Under certain circumstances, CCP also permits the court, to order the examination of the witness at any place other than the court, or on dates other than those fixed for public trial even before the first date fixed for trial. In the latter case, the accused/suspect and the defence counsel may attend the examination only when the judge believes their presence will not interfere with the criminal investigation, and the statement obtained thereby may, as an exception to the hearsay rule, be admitted in evidence during the trial even without presenting the declarant.
If there is danger that the witness might be injured or his property damaged, the court may limit the questions by which the domicile or other personal circumstances of the witness may come to the knowledge of the defendant.
Section 105.2 of the Penal Code of Japan provides punishment to any person who intimidates a witness in connection with such person's or another person's case.