The Japanese government officially decided Friday to pardon around 550,000 petty criminals on the occasion of Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony next week.
The pardons, under an ordinance to be promulgated, Tuesday will involve those found guilty of minor infractions at least three years ago. It will also reverse a temporary prohibition on violators being eligible for national licenses, and restore civil rights.
Those sentenced to imprisonment or penal servitude will not be considered for pardons. General amnesty will not be granted, nor will sentences be reduced.
The last amnesty was in 1993 to mark the emperor's marriage.
"We will implement the pardons with a policy to promote social rehabilitation by increasing the criminals' desire to rehabilitate themselves," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a press conference on Friday.
The government has said that the planned amnesty is "limited and smaller in scale compared to previous pardons" in a bid to assuage public criticism that consideration should be extended to crime victims.
More than 10 million people received amnesty and had their civil rights restored in 1989 to mark the death of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.
About 2.5 million people also had their rights restored in 1990 to celebrate the ascension to the throne by former Emperor Akihito, who abdicated on April 30 and was succeeded by his eldest son Emperor Naruhito.
Of those 550,000, traffic violators will account for 65.2 percent, followed by those convicted of causing death or injury in traffic accidents at 17.4 percent, assault or injury at 3.3 percent, and theft at 2.6 percent.
Under Japanese law, those who have been convicted and fined must wait five years before they are able to take exams to get national licenses. A pardon, however, will speed up the process.
Around 430 election law violators are also expected to have their civil rights restored this time, unlike in 1993 when criticism abounded that such pardons were politically motivated.
Separately, special individual pardons will be granted to those fined for minor infractions within the last three years and whose job prospects have been impacted. Around 700,000 people are expected to be entitled to amnesty.
Individuals who wish to be considered for the special individual pardons will have to file their requests with public prosecutors, and a rehabilitation panel under the Justice Ministry will examine their circumstances.
Of the 700,000 people, only around 1,000 are expected to be pardoned.