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History and Organization of Public Prosecutors’ Offices


 Japan's modern prosecution system began with the establishment of the judicial system in August 1872. This system adopted a modern French prosecution system, but it gave public prosecutors functions similar to the Imperial Prosecuting and Investigating Office under the previous legal system. The Meiji government invited Professor Boissonade of the University of Paris in 1873, and worked on drafting laws in earnest, enacting the “Code of Criminal Procedure” in 1880, and it entered into force in 1882. The act proclaimed the concepts of state prosecution and monopolization of prosecution, and the remnants of the previous legal system were wiped out. However, a preliminary trial system was adopted, and preliminary judges directly gathered evidence. Since there were flaws in the law that did not conform to national circumstances from the beginning for the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Act of the Constitution of Courts, which was drafted by the German Rudolf, was enacted and promulgated in February 1890, and the Criminal Procedure Code was enacted and promulgated in October of the same year. According to this law, the Public Prosecutors’ Offices are attached to the courts (not intended to be part of the courts). This became the basis of the current prosecutorial system, even from the viewpoint of authority and the qualifications and salaries of public prosecutors being uniform with judges. A new Criminal Procedure Code was enacted and promulgated in May 1922. After the end of World War II, under the occupation of the Allied Forces, Act No. 61 (the "Public Prosecutors’ Office Act") and Act No. 131 (the “Code of Criminal Procedure”) were enacted and promulgated on April 16, 1947 and July 10, 1948, respectively, and the current public prosecutors and Public Prosecutors’ Offices were born.
 Since the separation of powers is established by the constitution, courts are organized as independent organizations that are not subject to interference from justice ministers and criminal justice administration. As a result of the enactment of the Public Prosecutors’ Office Act separately from the Court Act, the judicial and prosecutorial organizations are clearly separate. The duties of public prosecutors in criminal justice can be said to have become even more important through investigations and trials.


Public Prosecutors' Offices include the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office, high public prosecutors' offices, district public prosecutors' offices and local public prosecutors' offices. In addition, there are branches that are established as needed in high public prosecutors' offices and the district public prosecutors' offices.
 These public prosecutors' offices are organized in a pyramid, with the Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office at the top.
 The Supreme Public Prosecutors' Office corresponds to the Supreme Court located in Tokyo. Here, they deal mainly with appeals against trials conducted by high courts regarding criminal cases (to seek changes to the original judgment on the grounds of violations of the constitution, errors in constitutional interpretation, judgments contrary to Supreme Court precedents, etc.).
 High public prosecutors' offices correspond to high courts, and are located in eight cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sendai, Sapporo and Takamatsu. Here, they mainly deal with appeals against trials conducted by district courts, family courts and summary courts regarding criminal cases (to petition to high courts because of disagreements with judgments).
 District public prosecutors' offices correspond to district courts and family courts, and there are 50 prefectural office locations in each prefecture (however, there are 4 locations in Hokkaido: Sapporo, Hakodate, Asahikawa and Kushiro). Here, they mainly deal with criminal cases under the jurisdiction of district courts and family courts.
 Local public prosecutors' offices correspond to summary courts and are located in 438 locations in major cities and towns nationwide. Here, they deal with relatively minor criminal cases that mainly fall under the jurisdiction of summary courts.

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