White Paper on Crime 2020 Part3/Chapter2/Section1/1
When a judicial police official investigates a juvenile’s case and considers that the juvenile has committed an offense, the official shall refer the case to a family court if it involves an offense that is only punishable with a fine or less severe penalty, or to a public prosecutor if it involves an offense that is punishable with a more severe penalty, unless the case concerns a violation of the Road Traffic Act and hansokukin (administrative fine) was paid in accordance with the traffic infraction notification system. When a case is referred, a public prosecutor investigates the case and then refers it to a family court if the prosecutor considers that an offense has been committed or there are any other reasons to subject the case to a family court hearing.
A family court may subject juvenile offenders under 14 and pre-delinquents of the same age to a hearing only when a prefectural governor or a child consultation center’s director refers them to a 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 a director of a child consultation center if, as a result of the investigation, they consider that an act of the juvenile involved a specific serious offense.
When juvenile offenders under 14 violate laws or regulations involving specific serious offenses, a prefectural governor or a director of a child consultation center is required, in principle, to refer a case to a family court. A governor or a director shall also refer a juvenile to a family court if it is considered appropriate to refer the juvenile to a family court hearing.