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police are an apolitical body and free of

direct central government executive

control. They are checked by an
independent judiciary and monitored by a
free and active press.

There are two types of law enforcement

officials in Japan, depending on the
underlying provision: Police officers of
Prefectural Police Departments
(prescribed as Judicial police officials (司
法警察職員) under Article 189 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法 Keiji-
soshōhō)), and Special judicial police
特 法警察職員) (prescribed in
officials ( 別司
Article 190 of the same law), dealing with
specialized fields with high expertise.[2]

The Japanese government established a
European-style civil police system in 1874,
under the centralized control of the Police
Bureau within the Home Ministry, to put
down internal disturbances and maintain
order during the Meiji Restoration. By the
1880s, the police had developed into a
nationwide instrument of government
control, providing support for local leaders
and enforcing public morality. They acted
as general civil administrators,
implementing official policies and thereby
facilitating unification and modernization.
In rural areas especially, the police had
great authority and were accorded the
same mixture of fear and respect as the
village head. Their increasing involvement
in political affairs was one of the
foundations of the authoritarian state in
Japan in the first half of the twentieth

The centralized police system steadily

acquired responsibilities, until it controlled
almost all aspects of daily life, including
fire prevention and mediation of labor
disputes. The system regulated public
health, business, factories, and
construction, and it issued permits and
licenses. The Peace Preservation Law of
1925 gave police the authority to arrest
people for "wrong thoughts". Special
Higher Police (Tokko) were created to
regulate the content of motion pictures,
political meetings, and election
campaigns. The Imperial Japanese Army's
military police (Kempeitai) and the
Imperial Japanese Navy's Tokkeitai,
operating under their respective services
and the justice and home ministries aided
the civilian police in limiting proscribed
political activity. After the Manchurian
Incident of 1931, military police assumed
greater authority, leading to friction with
their civilian counterparts. After 1937
police directed business activities for the
war effort, mobilized labor, and controlled

After Japan's surrender in 1945,

occupation authorities in World War II
retained the prewar police structure until a
new system was implemented and the
Diet passed the 1947 Police Law. Contrary
to Japanese proposals for a strong,
centralized force to deal with postwar
unrest, the police system was
decentralized. About 1,600 independent
municipal forces were established in
cities, towns, and villages with 5,000
inhabitants or more, and a National Rural
Police was organized by prefecture.
Civilian control was to be ensured by
placing the police under the jurisdiction of
public safety commissions controlled by
the National Public Safety Commission in
the Office of the Prime Minister. The
Home Ministry was abolished and
replaced by the less powerful Ministry of
Home Affairs, and the police were stripped
of their responsibility for fire protection,
public health, and other administrative
When most of the occupation forces were
transferred to Korea in 1950–51 with the
Korean War, the 75,000 strong National
Police Reserve (predecessor of the Japan
Ground Self-Defense Force) was formed
outside the Regular police organizations
to back up the ordinary police during civil
disturbances. And pressure mounted for a
centralized system more compatible with
Japanese political preferences. The 1947
Police Law was amended in 1951 to allow
the municipal police of smaller
communities to merge with the National
Rural Police. Most chose this
arrangement, and by 1954 only about 400
cities, towns, and villages still had their
own police forces. Under the 1954
amended Police Law, a final restructuring
created an even more centralized system
in which local forces were organized by
prefectures under a National Police

The revised Police Law of 1954, still in

effect in the 1990s, preserves some
strong points of the postwar system,
particularly measures ensuring civilian
control and political neutrality, while
allowing for increased centralization. The
National Public Safety Commission
system has been retained. State
responsibility for maintaining public order
has been clarified to include coordination
of national and local efforts;
centralization of police information,
communications, and record keeping
facilities; and national standards for
training, uniforms, pay, rank, and
promotion. Rural and municipal forces
were abolished and integrated into
prefectural forces, which handled basic
police matters. Officials and inspectors in
various ministries and agencies continue
to exercise special police functions
assigned to them in the 1947 Police Law.

According to statistics of the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,
among the 192 member states of the UN,
and among the countries reporting
statistics of criminal and criminal justice,
the incidence rate of violent crimes such
as murder, abduction, forced sexual
intercourse and robbery is very low in

The incarceration rate is very low and

Japan ranks 209 out of 223 countries. It
has an incarceration rate of 41 per
100,000 people. In 2018 the prison
population was 51,805 and 10.8% of
prisoners were unsentenced.[8]
Japan has a very low rate of intentional
homicide victims. According to the
UNODC it ranks 219 out of 230 countries.
It has a rate of just 0.20 per 100,000
inhabitants. There were 306 in 2017.[9][10]

The number of firearm related deaths is

low. The firearm-related death rate was
0.00 homicide (in 2008), 0.04 suicide (in
1999), 0.01 unintentional (in 1999) and
0.01 undetermined (in 1999) per 100,000
people. There's a gun ownership of 0.6 per
100 inhabitants.[11]

The intentional death rate is low for

homicides with 0.4 per 100,000 people in
2013. However, the suicide rate is
relatively high with 21.7 per 100,000 in

Regular police organizations

Prefectural Police Departments are
established for each Prefectures and have
full responsibility for regular police duties
for their area of responsibility. These
Prefectural Police Departments are
primarily municipal police with their own
police authority, but their activities are
coordinated by National Police Agency
and National Public Safety
Commission.[13] As of 2017, the total
strength of the police reached
approximately 296,700 personnel,
including 262,500 police officers, 900
Imperial guards and 33,200 civilian
staff.[14] Nationwide, there are
approximately 23,400 female police
officers and 13,000 female civilian

National Police Agency

As the central coordinating body for the

entire police system, the National Police
Agency determines general standards and
policies; detailed direction of operations is
left to the lower echelons.[15] In a national
emergency or large-scale disaster, the
agency is authorized to take command of
prefectural police forces. In 1989, the
agency was composed of about 1,100
national civil servants, empowered to
collect information and to formulate and
execute national policies. The agency is
headed by a Commissioner General who
is appointed by the National Public Safety
Commission with the approval of the
Prime Minister.[15]

The Central Office includes the Secretariat,

with divisions for general operations,
planning, information, finance,
management, and procurement and
distribution of police equipment, and five
bureaus. The citizen oversight is provided
by the National Public Safety

As of 2017, the NPA has a strength of

7,800 personnel: 2,100 police officers, 900
Imperial guards and 4,800 civilian staff.[14]

Prefectural Police Departments

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department building in

All operational police units are organized
into Prefectural Police Headquarters for
each Prefectures. Each Prefectural Police
Departments are composed of Prefectural
Public Safety Commission, police
authority, and Police Headquarters,
operational units.[13]

Prefectural Police Department of Tokyo

are specifically referred to as the Tokyo
Metropolitan Police Department ( 警視庁
Keishi-chō). Also, in Japanese, Hokkaido
Prefectural Police Departments are Dō-
道警察), those in Ōsaka and
keisatsu (
Kyōto are Fu-keisatsu (府警察) and are
distinguished from other Prefectural
Police Departments ( 県警察 Ken-keisatsu).
The total strength of the prefectural police
is approximately 288,000 personnel:
260,400 police officers and 28,400 civilian


Police officers are divided into nine

Status Police ranks[16] military Representative job titles

General ( 警察庁⻑ counterpart

官 Keisatsu-chō (outside
The Chief of the National Police Agency


General ( 警視総監 General
The Chief of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police
Deputy Commissioner General, Deputy
officials Senior
Commissioner ( 警 Lieutenant Superintendent General, The Chief of Regional

視監 Keishi-kan) general Police Bureau, The Chief of Prefectural Police


Commissioner (警 Major
視⻑ Keishi-chō) general
The Chief of Prefectural Police Headquarters

Commissioner ( 警 Colonel The Chief of Police Station
視正 Keishi-sei)
Local police
Superintendent ( 警 Lieutenant The Chief of Police Station (small or middle),
視 Keishi) colonel
The Vice Commanding Officer of Police Station,
Commander of Riot Police Unit

Chief Inspector ( 警 Major or Squad Commander of Police Station, Leader of

部 Keibu) Captain Riot Company

Inspector ( 警部補 Captain or Squad Sub-Commander of Police Station,

Keibu-ho) Lieutenant Leader of Riot Platoon

Police Sergeant Warrant

巡 部⻑ Junsa-
( 査 officer or Field supervisor, Leader of Police box
buchō) Sergeant

Senior Police
巡 ⻑
Officer ( 査 Corporal (Honorary rank of Police Officers)

Police officer ( 査 Private Prefectural Police Officers' careers start from
Junsa) this rank.

The NPA Commissioner General holds the

highest position of the Japanese
police.[18] His title is not a rank, but rather
denotes his position as head of the NPA.
On the other hand, the MPD
Superintendent General represents not
only the highest rank in the system but
also assignment as head of the Tokyo
Metropolitan Police Department.[18]

Police officers whose rank are higher than

Assistant Commissioner ( 警視正 Keishi-
sei) are salaried by the National budget
even if they belong to local police
departments. Designation and dismissal
of these high-rank officers are delegated
to National Public Safety Commission.[19]

Public security officials

except for Police Officers
There are several thousands of Public
security officials attached to various
agencies. They are responsible for such
matters as forest preservation, narcotics
control, fishery inspection, and
enforcement of regulations on maritime,
labor, and mine safety. In the Act on
Remuneration of Officials in the Regular
Service (
律), a salary table for Public security
officials (公安職 Kōan-shoku) including
Judicial police officials is stipulated.

Special judicial police officials

National Police Agency

Imperial guard (皇 宮護衛官)

Ministry of Justice

Prison guard (刑 務官)

Ministry of Health, Labour and

Narcotics agent ( 薬 ⿇ 取締官)

Labor Standards Inspector (労働基 準監
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry
and Fisheries

Authorized Fisheries Inspector (漁業 監


Officers of Regional Forest Office ( 林
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure,
Transport and Tourism

Coast Guard Officer ( 上保 安官)
The largest and most important of these
ministry-supervised public safety agencies
is the Japan Coast Guard, an external
agency of the Ministry of Land,
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism that
deals with crime in coastal waters and
maintains facilities for safeguarding
navigation. The agency operates a fleet of
patrol and rescue craft in addition to a few
aircraft used primarily for anti-smuggling
patrols and rescue activities. In 1990 there
were 2,846 incidents in and on the waters.
In those incidents, 1,479 people drowned
or were lost and 1,347 people were

船 務官)
( 員労

Ministry of Defense

Military police officer (

Officials working for public

safety, except for Special
judicial police officials

There are other officers having limited

public safety functions.

The National Diet

Diet guard (衛視)

Ministry of Justice

⼊ 警備官)
Immigration control officer ( 国
Immigration inspector (⼊国審査官)
Public security intelligence officer
公安調 官
( 査 )

They handle national security matters

both inside and outside the country. Their
activities are not generally known to the

Public prosecutor ( 検察官)

Public prosecutor's assistant officer (検
Ministry of Finance

Customs official ( 税関職員)

Officers of National Tax Agency (国 税庁
Ministry of Health, Labour and

Quarantine Officer ( 検疫官)

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry
and Fisheries
Animal Quarantine Officers (
植 防疫官)
Plant Protection Officer ( 物

Officers working for public safety
are Special judicial police can arrest can Salary
Officer 特
officials ( 別司 法警察職 suspects with carry schedule which
員) arrest warrant firearms is applied

Imperial guard (皇 宮護 Public Security

衛官) Service

Prison guard (刑 務官) Public Security


Narcotics agent (⿇薬 Administrative

取締官) Service

Labor Standards
Inspector (労働基 準監 Administrative

督官) Service

Authorized Fisheries
Supervisor (漁業 監督 Administrative

官) Service

Coast Guard Officer ( 海 Public Security

上保 安官) Service

Officials of
Military police officer
Ministry of

Diet guard (衛視) (議院警察職)

Immigration control Public Security

officer ( 国⼊ 警備官) Service

Immigration inspector Administrative

⼊ 審査官)
( 国 Service

Public security
intelligence officer (公 Public Security

安調査官) Service

Public prosecutor ( 検察 Public

官) Prosecutor

Public prosecutor's Public Security

assistant officer ( 検察 Service
事 務官)
Customs official (税関 Administrative
職員) Service

Public Security
cf. Police officer (judicial police official)

Laws and regulations for

restricted materials
Firearm and weapon policy

The Firearm and Sword Possession

Control Law strictly regulates the civilian
ownership of guns, swords and other
weaponry, in accordance with a 1958
Japanese law which states: "No person
shall possess a firearm or firearms or a
sword or swords" and there are few
Medical and recreational drugs

Japan has strict regulations on medical

and recreational drugs. Importing or using
any type of narcotics is illegal and there is
generally no leniency. For example the
possession of cannabis has a jail
sentence of up to five years for the first
offense. There are no exceptions for
celebrities; if a celebrity is caught then
their products are removed from stores
and it could bring an end to their career in
Japan. Authorities can detain a suspect
for up to three weeks without charges.
Solitary confinement is common and you
only get access to a lawyer.[22] It is illegal
to have prescription drugs mailed to you,
and only designated parties in Japan are
allowed to import them.[23] If you intend to
bring more than one month of prescription
medication, cosmetics or medical devices
into Japan, you are required to obtain
import certification called "Yakkan
Shoumei" (薬監証明).[24]

Historical secret police

Tokko (Investigated and controlled
political groups and ideologies deemed
to be a threat to public order)
Kempeitai (Military Police of the
Imperial Japanese Army)
Tokkeitai (Military Police of the Imperial
Japanese Navy)

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media

related to Law enforcement in Japan.

Shinsengumi (a special police force of

the late shogunate period)

 This article incorporates public
domain material from the Library of
Congress Country Studies website
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ .
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"Who will conduct the
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3. UNODC. "Data and Analysis>Crime
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population totals, prison population
rates, percentage of pre-trial
detainees / remand prisoners,
percentage of female prisoners,
percentage of foreign prisoners, and
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columns lowest to highest, or
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any country name in lists. See also
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links to get to the region and country
desired. Data for the whole Wikipedia
list was last retrieved on 18 October
2018. Some numbers may be
adjusted here later according to later
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only from this WPB source. For a
quick method to fully update the table
see the relevant section ("conversion
examples") of Commons:Convert
tables and charts to wiki code or
image files.
9. "UNODC Statistics Online" . United
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External links
NPA Official Site (Japanese)
NPA Official Site (English)
Imperial Guard Headquarters

Regional Bureaus

Kanto Regional Police Bureau

Chubu Regional Police Bureau
Kinki Regional Police Bureau
Chugoku Regional Police Bureau
Shikoku Regional Police Bureau
Kyushu Regional Police Bureau

Police communications Bureaus




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