In the law enforcement system in Japan, Prefectural Polices ( are responsible for the regular police affairs as to the areas of the respective tod?fuken-keisatsu)prefectures.[Note 1] Although these Prefectural Polices are in principle regarded as municipal police, they are, in fact, in many parts under the central oversight and control of the National Police Agency. As of 2017, the total strength of the prefectural police is approximately 288,000: 260,400 sworn officers and 28,400 civilian staff.
In the Empire of Japan, territorial police forces were organised as departments of police of each prefectural offices ( fuken-keisatsu-bu). They were placed under complete centralized control with the Police Affairs Bureau ( Keiho-kyoku) of the Home Ministry at their core.
After the surrender of Japan, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers regarded this centralized police system as undemocratic. During the occupation of Japan, the principle of decentralisation was introduced by the 1947 Police Law (ja). Cities and large towns had their own municipal police services ( jichitai keisatsu), and the National Rural Police ( Kokka Chih? Keisatsu) was responsible for smaller towns, villages and rural areas. But most Japanese municipalities were too small to have a large police force, so sometimes they were unable to deal with large-scale violence. In addition, excessive fragmentation of the police organisation reduced the efficiency of police activities.
As a response to these problems, complete restructuring created a more centralized system under the 1954 amended Police Law ( Keisatsu-h?). All operational units except for the Imperial Guard were reorganized into the Prefectural Police Departments for each prefecture and the National Police Agency was established as the central coordinating agency for these police departments.
Prefectural Public Safety Commissions ( tod?fuken k?an ?nkai) are administrative committees established under the jurisdiction of prefectural governors to provide citizen oversight for police activities. A committee consists of three members in an ordinary prefecture and five members in urban prefectures. The members of prefectural public safety commission are appointed by the governor with the consent of the prefectural assembly.
In Tokyo, the Prefectural Police Headquarters (? keisatsu-honbu) specifically refers to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (. Also, Keishi-ch?, TMPD)Hokkaido Prefectural Police Headquarters is known as d?-keisatsu-honbu (), and those in ?saka and Kyoto Prefectures are known as fu-keisatsu-honbu (), and are distinguished from other Prefectural Police Headquarters (. ken-keisatsu-honbu)
The Chiefs of Prefectural police headquarters ( keisatsu-honbu-ch?) are appointed officials at the top of the chain of command in each Prefectural Police Headquarters. In the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the name of Superintendent General (? Keishi-s?kan) is used.
These police departments are responsible for every police actions within their jurisdiction in principle, but most important activities are regulated by the National Police Agency. Police officers whose rank are higher than assistant commissioner ( keishi-sei) are salaried by the national budget even if they belong to local police departments. Designation and dismissal of these high-rank officers are delegated to the National Public Safety Commission.
Each Prefectural police headquarters contains administrative departments (bureaus in the TMPD) corresponding to those of the bureaus of the National Police Agency as follows:
In addition, urban Prefectural Police Departments comprise a general affairs department ( and a community police department s?mu-bu) (. ch?ki-bu)
There are some 289,000 police officers nationwide, about 97 per cent of whom were affiliated with Prefectural Police Headquarters.
In the Empire of Japan, the criminal investigation was presided over by prosecutors, like the ministère public does in French law. Then, with the 1947 Police Law (ja) and the 1948 Code of Criminal Procedure (ja), the responsibility of investigation has been defined to be uniquely assigned to police officers. In order to fulfil this responsibility, criminal investigation departments or criminal investigation bureaus (judiciary police) were set up in each police organisation. After the establishment of the 1954 amended Police Law, these departments are supervised by the Criminal Affairs Bureau of the National Police Agency.
Criminal investigation departments or criminal investigation bureaus maintain two investigation divisions ( (third or even fourth divisions are established in some urban prefecture), an organised crime investigation division sousa-ka) (? soshikihanzai-taisaku-ka) (reinforced as an independent department or headquarters in the TMPD and some prefectures), a mobile investigation unit, and an identification division (. The mobile investigation units kanshiki-ka) ( kid? sousa-tai) are first responders for initial criminal investigations, distributed among the region with unmarked cars. The special investigation teams (? tokushu-jiken sousa-kakari) are specialised detective units of the first investigation divisions, well acquainted with new technology and special tactics including SWAT capabilities. They are mandated for critical incidents except for terrorism, but in some rural but well-versed prefectural police like Aomori, these detectives can form a counter-terrorism task force together with uniformed officers and riot specialists.
Originally traffic policing was mainly done by community policing officers. However, with the progress of motorization since the 1950s, traffic accidents have increased dramatically, resulting in the so-called traffic war, the system of traffic police was also strengthened.
From the mid-1960s, mobile patrol units were installed at several PPHs, and in 1972 they were installed at all traffic departments of the PPHs as Mobile Traffic Units ( K?tsu-kid?-tai). Traffic cars (including unmarked cars) and police motorcycles are deployed in these units. And as the development of the expressway advanced, the establishment of the Expressway Traffic Police Units ( K?soku-d?ro k?tsu-keisatsu-tai) was also decided in 1971.
At the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, the jurisdiction for public security policing is divided into the Public Security Bureau ( and Security Bureau K?an-bu) ( Keibi-bu); the former is responsible for investigation activities, and the latter is responsible for security forces operations. In other PPHs, their security departments are in charge of all public security policing matters; but in the departments, they are divided in the same way as they are done by the MPD. They are supervised by the Security Bureau of the National Police Agency.
Within their security departments or bureaus, each PPHs maintains Riot Police Units (. These units are not only kid?-tai)riot police units literally, but are also some kind of rapid reaction force for disaster relief or other emergency missions, and reinforcement for regular police when necessary. Full-time riot police can also be augmented by regular police trained in riot duties.
Counter-terrorism operations are also the affairs of the security departments. The Special Assault Teams ( are the national-level units and Tokushu Ky?sh? Butai)Anti-Firearms Squads ( are the local units. J?ki-taisaku-butai) These units are established within the RPU basically, but SAT of the TMPD and Osaka PPH are under direct control of their Security Bureau (TMPD) or Department (Osaka PPH).
In the Japanese police, community policing is treated as being close to crime prevention, and in rural police headquarters, community safety departments in charge of crime prevention sometimes concurrently handle community policing. Community policing officers are organised into several police stations (. Each station includes the following sections: Keisatsu-sho)
These community policing officers are supported by the community police department or the community safety department of the prefectural police headquarters. In addition to the administration of the police radio networks, they provide inter-regional patrol units and air support: automobile patrols ( jid?sha-keira-tai) and a police aviation unit ( keisatsu-k?ku-tai), and many other assets.
Police officers are divided into nine ranks:
|Status||Police ranks||Comparable military ranks||Representative job title(s)||Rank insignia||Shoulder pads|
|Commissioner General ( Keisatsu-ch? Ch?kan)||No counterpart
(outside normal ranking)
|The chief of the NPA|
|Superintendent General (? Keishi-s?kan)||General||The chief of the TMPD|
|Senior commissioner ( keishi-kan)||Lieutenant general||Deputy commissioner general, deputy superintendent general, the chief of a regional police bureau and the chief of a PPH|
|Commissioner ( keishi-ch?)||Major general||The chief of a PPH|
|Assistant Commissioner ( keishi-sei)||Colonel||The chief of a police station|
|Local police personnel||Superintendent ( keishi)||Lieutenant colonel||The chief of a small or middle police station, the vice commanding officer of a police station and commander of a riot police unit|
|Chief inspector ( keibu)||Major or captain||Squad commander in a police station and leader of a riot company|
|Inspector ( keibu-ho)||Captain or lieutenant||Squad sub-commander in a police station and leader of a riot platoon|
|Police sergeant (? junsa-buch?)||Warrant officer or Sergeant||Field supervisor and leader of a police box|
|Senior police officer ( junsa-ch?)||Private first class||Honorary rank of police officers|
|Police officer ( junsa)||Private||A prefectural police officer's career starts from this rank|
The National Police Agency Commissioner General holds the highest position of the Japanese police. His title is not a rank, but rather denotes his position as head of the NPA. On the other hand, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Superintendent General represents not only the highest rank in the system but also assignment as head of the TMPD.
In the pre-war period, police officers wore jackets with a stand-up collar. In 1946, the jacket was changed to four-buttons, open-collar style with vent and in 1950, a new police duty belt to wear gun and baton was adopted. But at this point, the uniforms of the National Rural Police and the municipal police differed in details.
During a reorganization in 1954, uniforms were to be unified across the country, but because that would take time, only the class chapter was unified at this time. After that, in 1956, a new uniform was adopted. The jacket became the turned-down collar style with three buttons, and the vent was done away with. Also, at this time, the summer clothes became grey, but in 1968 it was changed to greyish blue.
Through the campaign against the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan at the end of the 1960s, helmets and protective gear for riot police officers were improved. On the other hand, general police officers were wearing blade-deflecting vests under uniforms so that they would not be noticeable, but since the 2000s, a strong stab vest to overlay on the uniform was adopted. And in case of gun violence, bulletproof vests are also equipped. Ordinary police officers, riot police officers, SWAT detectives, and counter-terrorism operators use different vests of different standards.
In the pre-war period, most Japanese law enforcement officials only had a sabre. Only some elite detectives, bodyguards, or SWAT units such as the Emergency Service Unit of the TMPD were issued pistols. FN Model 1910 or Colt Model 1903 were used for open-carry uses, and Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket or FN M1905 for concealed carry. During the Occupation, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers suggested them to be equipped with firearms. Because of the insufficient stocks of the domestic handguns, Japanese police started to receive service pistols leased from the Allies from 1949, and by 1951, all officers were issued pistols.
In the beginning, types of sidearm varied, but M1911 pistols and M1917 revolvers, Smith & Wesson Military & Police and Colt Official Police were used as their main sidearm. The .38 calibre revolvers were well-received, but .45 calibre handguns were too large to carry for somewhat small officers especially women. And especially M1917 revolvers were obsolete, deteriorated significantly, so malfunction or reduced accuracy had been a problem. As a response to these issues, the National Rural Police Headquarters started to import small .38 Special calibre revolvers such as Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special and Colt Detective Special. And from the 1960s, procurement began to migrate to the domestic Minebea "New Nambu" M60. When the production of the M60 was completed in the 1990s, deployment of small semi-automatic pistols was considered, but this plan was abandoned after small numbers of SIG Sauer P230 were deployed. Finally, imports from the United States was resumed, S&W M37 and M360 revolvers have been purchased for uniformed officers. And some elite detectives, bodyguards, or counter-terrorism units such as the Special Assault Team are equipped with 9×19mm Parabellum calibre semi-automatic pistols, Heckler & Koch USP, for example.
From sometime in the 1970s, the Special Armed Police (ancestor of the Special Assault Team of the TMPD) introduced Heckler & Koch MP5A5/SD6/K submachine guns. And from 2002, local counter-terrorism units (anti-firearms squads) were started to be equipped with MP5F, and there are also assault rifles in the SAT and urban AFS units. SWAT units of crime branches (Special Investigation Team of the TMPD, for example) also introduced semi-automatic pistol-caliber carbine variant of MP5K (named as MP5SFK unofficially).
Initially, the sniper team was established in the 1960s, the Howa Golden Bear (original model of the Weatherby Vanguard) has been used as a sniper rifle, then, it has been updated to the Howa M1500. In the Special Assault Teams, Heckler & Koch PSG1 and L96A1 also been deployed.
For Japanese police, service pistols are generally left at work when they are not on duty.
In Japan, there are about 40,000 police vehicles nationwide with the average patrol cruisers being Toyota Crowns and similar large sedans, although small compact and micro cars are used by rural police boxes and in city centres where they are much more manoeuvrable. Pursuit vehicles depend on prefectures with the Honda NSX, Subaru Impreza, Subaru Legacy, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Skyline, Mazda RX-7, and Nissan Fairlady Z are all used in various prefectures for highway patrols and pursuit uses.
With the exception of unmarked vehicles, all PPHs vechicles are painted and marked in the same ways. Ordinary police vehicles are painted black and white with the upper parts of the vehicle painted white. Motorcycles are usually all white, and vehicles for riot police units are painted blue and white.
In Japan, the deployment of police helicopters began in 1960. They are extensively used for traffic reporting, the pursuit of suspects, search and rescue, airlift or many other missions. Total of about 80 helicopters are being operated in 47 prefectures nationwide. Some helicopters are equipped with stabilised TV camera and microwave link systems.
Police watercrafts of Japan are divided into five groups: 23-meter type, 20-meter type, 17-meter type, 12-meter type, 8-meter type. As of 2014, 159 vessels are deployed nationwide. Since the Japan Coast Guard is in charge of the outside of ports, police watercrafts are mainly mandated for rivers. However, sometimes they are dispatched to support police activities on the ground even on detached islands.
All Prefectural Police Headquarters, except for the Hokkaid? Prefectural Police Department (due to the prefecture's large size) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (due to the Tokyo's special status as the capital), are under the central coordination for operations monitoring and wide area investigation by the Regional Police Bureaus ( Kanku Keisatsu-kyoku) of the National Police Agency: