Japan court discarded records designated for preservation

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Supreme Court

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Supreme Court said Friday that records on six civil trials handled at the Oita District Court that were designated for permanent preservation have been discarded.

It was the first revelation of the disposal of trial records designated for permanent preservation.

The Supreme Court’s internal rules require records of cases that drew social attention or would serve as key materials for research to be preserved permanently.

Meanwhile, it emerged recently that records of high-profile cases involving minors, including deadly attacks on children in Kobe in 1997 by a perpetrator who was arrested when he was 14, have been discarded.

Following the revelations, the top court carried out a survey and found that there were a total of 1,367 cases, including juvenile crime cases, whose court records are designated for permanent preservation at courts across Japan.

Of the total, 1,281 were civil cases. The top court has confirmed that the Oita District Court in Oita Prefecture discarded all records on six civil cases on Feb. 27 this year though they were designated for permanent preservation.

Details including why this happened are still unknown.

The Supreme Court explained the results of its survey at the first meeting of an expert panel Friday. The court also reported to the panel on interviews carried out to investigate the disposal of the records for the Kobe case, which was not designated for permanent preservation.

Masaya Hotta, secretary general of the Supreme Court, apologized at the beginning of the meeting, saying that the system to handle records designated for permanent preservation was “inadequate.”

“We have to reflect on the fact candidly,” he added. The rest of the meeting was held behind closed doors.

After the meeting, the top court explained to reporters that over 30 people, including those who were working at the Kobe District Court when the records were discarded, had been interviewed.

It refrained from disclosing details of the interviews, however, saying, “It’s not appropriate to make an assessment based solely on the investigation into the Kobe case.”