Panel proposes GPS tracking to tackle flight risk

A panel of experts has proposed that Japan's Justice Ministry introduce GPS tracking of people out on bail if courts agree that they pose a risk of fleeing abroad.

The move comes amid an increase in the number of cases where bail is granted, which is often aimed at giving defendants more time to prepare for court hearings. The rise has come with the introduction of lay judges in some cases since 2009.

There have been a number of cases in which the accused has taken flight after being released on bail in recent years.

One high-profile example occurred in 2019, when former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn fled to Lebanon in a private jet while awaiting trial for alleged financial misconduct.

Under the proposal, drafted on Friday, people on bail wearing GPS devices would be monitored and detained if they were to breach a ban on entering air and seaports.

A penalty of up to two years' prison time would be imposed if defendants on bail were to fail to appear in court or remained away from their designated residence for a longer period than allowed.

But there is concern with regard to how effective such strictures would be, with ministry officials saying they will not monitor defendants around the clock out of respect for their privacy.

The proposal is expected to be submitted to the justice minister as early as late October.