The plea bargaining system, which came into effect in 2018, allows suspects and defendants to enter into negotiations with prosecutors whereby evidence of others' criminal conduct can be provided in return for criminal charges being reduced or dropped. This article examines Japan's first bribery conviction involving plea bargaining, which has been successfully appealed to the Tokyo High Court. This case is significant because it will likely influence how public prosecutors use the plea bargaining system in future.
Since Japan's first plea bargaining system was introduced in June 2018, prosecutors have used plea bargains in two cases, the second of which led to the dramatic arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former CEO and chair of Renault-Nissan, on the tarmac of Haneda Airport in November 2018. The one-year anniversary of the new system therefore seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the first cases and examine the implications for the future.