White paper on crime 2011 Part6/Section3
In order to effectively secure the right of both suspects and defendants to receive the support of lawyers and realize more enhanced and prompt criminal trials a system of assigning court-appointed defense counsels to detained suspects was introduced in October 2006. Cases initially covered by the system were those of offenses punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment or imprisonment for a minimum term of one year or more with or without work, but the scope was then expanded to include those punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment or imprisonment for a maximum term of over three years with or without work in May 2009.
The Japan Judicial Support Center (known as “Houterasu”) provides services concerning the selection of a court-appointed defense counsel on request by courts, as described below. A total of 7,415 cases were accepted by the Center in FY 2008 but that increased to 70,917 in FY 2010 due to expansion of the cases covered by the system (Source: Houterasu).