Japan's Justice Ministry plans to introduce electronic arrest warrants and interrogation records as the country seeks to promote the digitalization of its criminal procedures, ministry officials said Monday.

The ministry is set to submit revisions to the Code of Criminal Procedure in the Diet next year based on proposals made Monday by its advisory panel, they said.

Britain, France, the United States and South Korea are among countries that already issue arrest warrants electronically, according to a document presented by the panel.

An advisory panel on the digitalization of criminal procedures holds a meeting at the Justice Ministry in Tokyo on Dec. 4, 2023. (Kyodo)

The panel's proposals also included ways to allow defendants with an illness or disability to attend their trial remotely through a video link.

In Japan, the use of a video link in court proceedings has been restricted to certain cases such as sexual abuse.

Other investigation and criminal procedures also set to become online include those related to indictment and bail, they said.

Once a defendant is indicted, lawyers would also be able to electronically view evidence collected by investigators. Currently, lawyers need to make hard copies of the documents following the indictment.

Among other proposals, the filing of criminal complaints will be available online.

While the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has been calling for lawyers' interviews with suspects and defendants to be done online, it was not included in the latest proposals.

The government decided in 2020 to digitalize criminal and investigative procedures and the Justice Ministry established the panel comprising university professors and senior judicial officials to that end.

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