White paper on crime 2011 Part3/Chapter1/Section1/1
When the police, etc. clear a juvenile offender, although excluding cases involving Road Traffic Act violations where a non-penal fine is paid in accordance with the traffic infraction notification system, the case is referred to a family court if it involves an offense liable to fine or lighter punishment, or to the public prosecutors for an offense liable to a more serious punishment. Public prosecutors investigate the case and then refer it to a family court if there is probable cause to suspect that an offence has been committed or any other reason exists for a hearing to be held in a family court.
Anyone who has discovered a child who has no guardian or whose guardians are deemed inappropriate to take custody of them, but excluding juvenile offenders (aid-requiring children), is obliged to notify a prefectural welfare office or child guidance center of the case.
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 can subject them to a hearing only upon receiving them from a prefectural governor or the director of a child guidance center. Police officers have the right to investigate a case if they have reasonable grounds to believe that it involves a juvenile offender under 14. The police then investigate the case and refer it to the director of a child guidance center if the act of the juvenile is deemed to have involved a certain types of serious offense. The prefectural governor or the director of a child guidance 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. In case of juvenile offenders under 14 who have violated any law or ordinance involving a certain types of serious offense, however, the governor/director is required, in principle, to refer the juvenile to a family court.
Anyone who has discovered a pre-delinquent aged 14 or older is required to notify a family court of the case. However, a police officer or guardian can opt to notify a child guidance center of the case if the pre-delinquent is younger than 18 and it is deemed more appropriate to primarily handle the case using measures provided by the Child Welfare Act than to refer it to or notify a family court of it.