White paper on crime 2017 Part3/Chapter2/Section1/1
When the judicial police official cleared a juvenile offender who committed an offense which is only punishable with a fine or less severe penalty, the official shall refer the case to a family court. For an offense which is punishable by a more severe penalty, the official shall refer the case to a public prosecutor, unless the case was a violation of the Road Traffic Act and hansokukin (administrative fine) was 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 offense has been committed or any other reason to subject the case to a family court hearing.
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 juvenile offender, must notify a Welfare Office or child consultation center established by the municipal or prefectural government.
For juvenile offenders and pre-delinquents under 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 the family court. Police officers may investigate a case when there is probable cause to suspect that a juvenile under 14 has committed an offense. The police shall refer the case to the director of a child consultation center if, as a result of the investigation, they consider that the act of the juvenile involved a specific serious offense. The prefectural governor or the director of a child consultation center refers the juvenile to a family court if they deem it appropriate to subject the juvenile to a family court hearing. However, when juvenile offenders under 14 violate laws or regulations involving specific serious offenses, the governor/director is required, in principle, to refer the case to a family court.
A person who discovers a pre-delinquent aged 14 or older must notify the family court of the discovery. However, a police officer or the custodian of the pre-delinquent may directly notify the child consultation center if the pre-delinquent is under 18 and it is deemed appropriate to subject the juvenile to the measures under the Child Welfare Act rather than directly referring/notifying the family court on the pre-delinquent.