White paper on crime 2014 Part3/Chapter2/Section1/1
When the judicial police officials clear a juvenile offender who committed an offense which is only punishable by a fine or less severe penalty, they shall refer the case to a family court; as for an offense which is punishable by a more severe penalty, they shall refer the case to public prosecutors, except for the cases of violation of the Road Traffic Act and when hansokukin (fine) is paid in accordance with the traffic infraction notification system. Public prosecutors investigate the case and then refer 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 (child requiring aid), 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 a family court. Police officers may investigate a case if necessary there is, in reasonable view of objective circumstances, 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 specific types of serious offenses. The prefectural governor or the director of a child consultation center will refer 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 types of serious offenses, the governor/director is required, in principle, to refer the case to a family court.
In principle, a person who discovers a pre-delinquent must notify the family court of the discovery. 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.