The lattest discussion about the Japanese police's way of dealing with foreigners (this thread) brought on me some kind of revelation as to why some Westerners like me complain have problems with the Japanese police. It is all related to the concept of presumption of innocence, which apparently is not one of the fundamental rights of the Japanese code of laws.

The French and Belgian constitutions say that "Every man is supposed innocent until having been declared guilty". The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: "Any person charged with an offence has the right ... to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal".

However, many other countries do not have presumption of innocence in their constitution or charter of fundamental rights. The US has a very different approach, as suspect are told the Miranda Rights ("You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, etc.") which somewhat presumes the suspect NOT to be innocent.

That is maybe why I am so shocked to see how in the USA and Japan suspects (NOT convicted criminals or people arrested red-handed) are typically handcuffed and interrogated with little respect as if they were indeed criminals. In Belgium or France (and several other European countries) suspects are treated with respect, rarely taken by force or handcuffed (except if there are witnesses or they are armed). Interrogation would never include verbal abuse, harassment, sleep deprivation or physical violence for some suspected of an offence or a minor crime (i.e. almost anything but armed robbery, rape and murder). This is obviously because a suspect is just a suspect and not guilty until proven to be guilty. So in people's mind, as the suspect is automatically presumed innocent, interrogations must be civil and respectful, as the police could otherwise be sued for abuse of power.

Add to this that the Japanese police has the right to detain and interrogate a suspect for up to 21 days without any evidence or proof ! This is a complete abuse of power in my eyes. In most Western countries that period does not exceed 96h for serious crimes, but often no more than a few hours.

So reading the article (not the first, not the last) about that Westerner interrogated quite viciously by the Japanese police for 22h over 3 days, just for pushing someone (a very minor crime), which was not even proven... that's just beyond anything I would consider acceptable.