The concept of a right of silence, particularly in the case of an accused person, was totally unknown in traditional Japanese law. Tokugawa procedure made no clear-cut distinction between civil and criminal or judicial and administrative proceedings; those embroiled in disputes were expected, indeed required, to make full revelation of everything which bore on the propriety of their activity. In what today would be a criminal proceeding, the defendant was expected to respond to questioning; and he could be tortured until he made the requisite statement. During the first decade or two of the Meiji period (1868-1912) some changes were made; the use of torture as an investigative device was prohibited and evidence other than a confession had to be adduced before a conviction could be entered
B. J. George, Jr.,
The "Right of Silence" in Japanese Law,
43 Wash. L. Rev.
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