What can my embassy do if I am arrested in Japan?
If you are arrested in Japan for a criminal offence, you should be aware of the options you have available to you. One resource you will have is your embassy, which can provide limited support to you. Read below to learn more about the steps you should take when arrested in Japan, and what kind of support your embassy can provide to you in this situation.
If you are arrested …
It’s important to understand the first steps you should take if you are arrested in Japan. It is advised that you take the following steps:
- Remain silent until you have a lawyer/interpreter
- Hire a lawyer (better an English-speaking one) or request a court-appointed lawyer*
- Notify your embassy
- Request an interpreter in the case that you don’t speak Japanese
*It is highly recommended to memorize the phone number of your lawyer or law firm in case of arrest. The police may not allow you to search for an attorney online after arrest, or check your wallet for your lawyer’s business card. Our phone number is 03-6868-8647.
What your embassy CAN and CANNOT do
The embassy does not actually have much power to help you in the case that you are arrested in Japan. The embassy CAN:
- Provide you with a list of local attorneys;
- Contact your family, friends, or employers if you provide them with written permission;
- Visit you regularly in prison to provide you with reading materials, personal items, vitamins etc, where appropriate and permitted;
- Help to ensure that officials are providing you appropriate medical care;
- Inform you of local and resources in your country available to detainees;
- Request that officials permit you visits, including with a member of the clergy of the religion of your choice; and
- Assist family and friends abroad in sending you money.
On the other hand, you should be aware that the embassy CANNOT:
- Bail you out of prison in Japan
- Testify and state to a court that you are guilty or innocent
- Provide you with legal advice or be your legal representative in court
- Serve as your official legal interpreters and/or translators
- Pay your legal, medical, or other fees occurred while detained
Can my embassy provide a lawyer/interpreter?
The embassy cannot provide you a lawyer or interpreter. They are only permitted to provide you with a list of lawyers that you may select from if you so choose.
Contact an English-speaking lawyer
If you are arrested under suspicion of a crime, you will be questioned and you may be pressured into signing a written statement. It is highly important that you have an English-speaking defense attorney present to consult with at such times. The first thing you should do is ask for a defense attorney if you are arrested in Japan.
However, remember that the police may not allow you to search for one after arrest, so it is best to try and memorize the phone number. You can call 03-6868-8647 for a consultation or contact us via our online contact form.
This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice. For advice from a lawyer, please call the number listed above.