Japan Table of Contents
The mission of the National Public Safety Commission is to guarantee the neutrality of the police by insulating the force from political pressure and to ensure the maintenance of democratic methods in police administration. The commission's primary function is to supervise the National Police Agency, and it has the authority to appoint or dismiss senior police officers. The commission consists of a chairman, who holds the rank of minister of state, and five members appointed by the prime minister with the consent of both houses of the Diet. The commission operates independently of the cabinet, but liaison and coordination with it are facilitated by the chairman's being a member of that body.
As the central coordinating body for the entire police system, the National Police Agency determines general standards and policies; detailed direction of operations is left to the lower echelons. In a national emergency or large-scale disaster, the agency is authorized to take command of prefectural police forces. In 1989 the agency was composed of about 1,100 national civil servants, empowered to collect information and to formulate and execute national policies. The agency is headed by a commissioner general who is appointed by the National Public Safety Commission with the approval of the prime minister. The central office includes the Secretariat, with divisions for general operations, planning, information, finance, management, and procurement and distribution of police equipment, and five bureaus. The Administration Bureau is concerned with police personnel, education, welfare, training, and unit inspections. The Criminal Investigation Bureau is in charge of research statistics and the investigation of nationally important and international cases. This bureau's Safety Department is responsible for crime prevention, combating juvenile delinquency, and pollution control. In addition, the Criminal Investigation Bureau surveyes, formulates, and recommends legislation on firearms, explosives, food, drugs, and narcotics. The Communications Bureau supervises police communications systems.
The Traffic Bureau licenses drivers, enforces traffic safety laws, and regulates traffic. Intensive traffic safety and driver education campaigns are run at both national and prefectural levels. The bureau's Expressway Division addresses special conditions of the nation's growing system of express highways.
The Security Bureau formulates and supervises the execution of security policies. It conducts research on equipment and tactics for suppressing riots and oversaw and coordinates activities of the riot police. The Security Bureau is also responsible for security intelligence on foreigners and radical political groups, including investigation of violations of the Alien Registration Law and administration of the Entry and Exit Control Law. The bureau also implements security policies during national emergencies and natural disasters.
The National Police Agency has seven regional police bureaus, each responsible for a number of prefectures. Metropolitan Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido are excluded from these regional jurisdictions and are run more autonomously than other local forces, in the case of Tokyo, because of its special urban situation, and of Hokkaido, because of its distinctive geography (see Geographic Regions , ch. 2). The National Police Agency maintains police communications divisions in these two areas to handle any coordination needed between national and local forces.
Data as of January 1994