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Public prosecutors offices handle the work of public prosecutors. They are divided into 4 types: the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office corresponding to the Supreme Court; High Public Prosecutors Offices corresponding to High Courts; District Prosecutors Offices corresponding to District Courts and Family Courts; and Local Public Prosecutors Offices corresponding to Summary Courts.
Public prosecutors, as representatives of the public interest, have the authority to: (1) investigate crimes; (2) prosecute criminal cases; (3) request due process of law to courts for criminal cases; (4) supervise the execution of sentences for criminal cases; (5) request notification from or state opinions to courts with respect to other matters under the authority of courts when they consider it necessary to do so in performing their duties; and (6) carry out duties assigned to their authority under laws and ordinances.
Japan adopts the principle of prosecution by the state. Prosecution by private individuals is not permitted, and the right to prosecute is granted exclusively to public prosecutors, with the only exception of the " quasi-prosecution procedure " (see Part 3, Chapter 2, Section 1 ) ( the concept of monopolization of prosecutions).
Public prosecutors proceed with criminal investigation when they receive cases referred from the police etc. or charges and complaints or they recognize cases themselves, and dispose of the cases based on the investigation results. Dispositions of cases consist of final and intermediate dispositions, and final dispositions are roughly divided into prosecution and non-prosecution.
Prosecution includes request for formal trial, request for summary order and request for speedy trial. Reasons for non-prosecution dispositions include (1) insufficient conditions for prosecution (for example, death of the suspect, dissolution of a corporation, lack, invalidity, or withdrawal of a complaint, charge or request in the case of offenses to be prosecuted upon complaint, charge, or request) (2) the case not being considered an offense (for example, because the suspect is a minor or mentally disabled), (3) the suspicion of an offense not being proved (for example, lack or insufficiency of evidence). In addition, (4) even when the suspicion of an offense is proved, public prosecutors may make a decision to suspend prosecution if prosecution is deemed to be unnecessary in light of the character, age, or circumstances of the suspect, the seriousness and nature of the offense, and the situation after the offense ( the principle of discretionary prosecution).
Public prosecutors are obliged to refer cases involving juvenile suspects to family courts when they perceive the suspicion of an offense following their investigations into such cases, except when these cases have been transferred to them by family courts. Even if there is no suspicion of an offense, they are also obliged to refer cases to family courts when they consider that hearing should be commenced for the cases, as in the case of what are called status offenses (see Part 4, Chapter 2, Section 2 for the prosecution of juvenile cases).