White paper on crime 2012 Part3/Chapter2/Section1/1
When the police, etc. clear a juvenile offender who committed an offense with statutory penalty of fine or lighter punishment, they shall refer the case to a family court, and with that of heavier punishment to a public prosecutor, excluding a case where the juvenile offender is cleared for violations of Road Traffic Act and for which the pecuniary penalty is paid in accordance with the traffic infraction notification system. A public prosecutor investigates the case and then refers it to a family court if there is probable cause to suspect that an offence has been committed or any other reason to subject the case to a hearing of a family court.
A person who discovers a child without custodian or a child for whom the custody of his/her custodian is found inappropriate (aid-requiring child) other than a child of 14 years of age or more who has committed a crime, shall give notification to a Welfare Office or child consultation center established by the municipal or prefectural government.
With juvenile offenders under 14 and pre-delinquents younger than 14 years of age, measures provided by the Child Welfare Act have priority and a family court may subject them to a hearing only when a prefectural governor or the director of a child consultation center refers the juvenile to a family court. Police officers may investigate a case if necessary when they discover a juvenile and there exists, in reasonable view of objective circumstances, probable cause to suspect that he/she is a juvenile offender under 14. The police shall refer the case to the director of a child consultation center if they consider that the act of the juvenile involved specific types of serious offenses as a result of the investigation. The prefectural governor or the director of a child consultation center will refer the juvenile they have been notified of or received, etc. to a family court if they deem it appropriate to subject the juvenile to a hearing in a family court. When juvenile offenders under 14 violated laws or regulations involving specific types of serious offenses, however, the governor/director is required, in principle, to refer the case to a family court.
A person who discovers a pre-delinquent shall notify the family court of the discovery, in principle. However, a police officer or the custodian of the juvenile may directly notify the child consultation center of the juvenile if the pre-delinquent is a juvenile under 18 and it is found appropriate to subject the juvenile to the measures under the Child Welfare Act in preference to direct referral or notification to the family court.