move to the right menu  move to the main contents



Jump menu


Home > Supreme Court of Japan


2017 (A) 67

2019.06.03
2017 (A) 67
Keishu Vol. 73, No. 3
Judgment concerning the case in which the Court ruled that the judgment in prior instance, which determined that it would be contrary to good faith to consider that the case of the accused falls under Article 130, item (ii) of the Road Traffic Act on the grounds that the accused refused to receive a traffic violation notice, thus denying the applicability of the same item, was illegal due to the erroneous interpretation and application of laws and regulations
Case charged for violation of the Road Traffic Act
Judgment of the First Petty Bench, quashed and decided by the Supreme Court
Osaka High Court, Judgment of December 6, 2016
In the case charged for violation of the Road Traffic Act (ignoring a red traffic light) involving the accused who refused to receive traffic violation notice, in response to the accused's request made at the spot where the traffic control measures were ongoing and the police station to which the accused was taken after arrest, that he she/be presented with the video of the onboard camera which would show that the traffic light facing the accused was red, even if the police officers denied the existence of such video although the video actually existed, this should not be regarded as constituting a reason for denying the applicability of Article 130, item (ii) of the Road Traffic Act under the traffic violation notification system; therefore, the judgment in prior instance which determined, in light of these circumstances, that it would be contrary to good faith to consider that the accused's refusal to receive the traffic violation notice cannot be rendered ineffective, and that the case of the accused falls under the same item, thus denying the applicability of the same item, was illegal due to the erroneous interpretation and application of laws and regulations, and it should inevitably be quashed pursuant to Article 411, item (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Article 130, item (ii) of the Road Traffic Act, and Article 411, item (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure



Road Traffic Act

(Criminal Cases against Violators)

Article 130, item (ii)

A violator is not subject to prosecution, nor is a violator subject to being brought before the family court for trial, in connection with a case involving the violation in question unless it is after the violator has been issued a notice of findings pursuant to Article 127, paragraph (1) or the second sentence of paragraph (2), notifying the violator to pay the penalty for the category to which the violation belongs, and after the period provided for in Article 128, paragraph (1) has ended; provided, however, that this does not apply if:

(ii) the violator could not be notified to appear as under Article 126, paragraph (1) or (4) or could not be notified of the findings as under Article 127, paragraph (1) or the second sentence of paragraph (2) because the violator refused to receive the document or because the violator's residence was unknown.



Code of Criminal Procedure

Article 411, item (i)

Even in absence of grounds as prescribed in the items of Article 405, the final appellate court may render a judgment to reverse the judgment of the court of first or second instance, on any of the following grounds when it deems that not doing so would clearly be contrary to justice:

(i) There is a violation of laws and regulations which would have affected the judgment.
The judgment in prior instance is quashed.

The appeal to the court of second instance is dismissed.
Among the reasons for a final appeal stated by the public prosecutor, the argument of violation of a judicial precedent is irrelevant in this case because it addressed a different type of facts, and the rest are arguments of a mere violation of laws and regulations and an erroneous finding of facts; and thus, these reasons do not constitute any of the reasons for a final appeal as referred to in Article 405 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

However, as a result of the Court's examination by its authority in consideration of the counsel's arguments, the judgment in prior instance should inevitably be quashed pursuant to Article 411, item (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, for the following reasons.

I. Summaries of the charged facts, the judgment in first instance, and the judgment in prior instance

1. In summary, the charged facts in this case are as follows: "On July 12, 2015, around 8:11 p.m., on a road in Osaka Prefecture, the accused had: but neglected, the duty of care to confirm and follow a signal indicated by a traffic light, and by negligence, drove a standard passenger car crossing over the stop line, while missing and not following the red signal indicated by the traffic light."

2. The accused did not dispute the charged facts, and the court of first instance found the facts of the crime as thus charged, and sentenced the accused to a fine of 9,000 yen.

3. The accused filed an appeal against the judgment in first instance, arguing violation of laws and regulations in the litigation proceedings and inappropriate sentencing. The court of prior instance, before making a determination on the reasons for appeal, determined by its own authority that the institution of the prosecution of this case is ineffective because it was performed without carrying out the procedure prescribed in Article 130 of the Road Traffic Act although this case did not fall under any of the cases set forth in the items of the same Article, and therefore that the court of first instance unlawfully accepted the prosecution, and based on this finding, the court of prior instance quashed the judgment in first instance pursuant to Article 397, paragraph (1) and Article 378, item (ii) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and dismissed the prosecution of this case pursuant to Article 338, item (iv) of the same Code.

II. The Court's decision

However, the aforementioned determination in the judgment in prior instance cannot be upheld for the following reasons.

1. According to the findings of the judgment in prior instance and the case records, the facts of this case are as follows.

(1) On July 12, 2015, around 8:11 p.m., on a road in Osaka Prefecture, the accused drove a standard passenger car (hereinafter referred to as the "accused's car") crossing over the stop line, while missing and not following a red traffic light. The police officers who were engaged in the traffic control measures near the spot, upon actually seeing this, started their police car immediately and began pursuing the accused's car, and then stopped the accused's car. The police officers told the accused that they had actually seen the accused ignoring the red traffic light, and requested the accused to get out of the car. However, the accused did not admit the violation, alleging that the traffic light was yellow, and refused to get out of the car or present his/her driver's license. Accordingly, the police officers arrested the accused for violation of the Road Traffic Act (ignoring a red traffic light) as an offender caught in the act.

(2) The accused, at the spot where the traffic control measures had been ongoing and at the police station to which he/she had been taken, requested that the police officers present the video of the onboard camera mounted on the police car which would show that the traffic light facing the accused was red (hereinafter referred to as the "video of the onboard camera"), but the police officers refused to present it, saying that there was no such video, although the video actually existed. After releasing the accused, the police officers prepared a traffic violation ticket and explained to the accused the content of the traffic violation notice and the traffic violation notification system. However, since the accused repeatedly made the abovementioned allegation, saying that the traffic light was yellow, and refused to receive the traffic violation notice, the police officers decided to deal with this case as a case of refusal of receipt of notice.

(3) During the investigation by the public prosecutor as well, the accused alleged that the traffic light facing him/her was yellow, but after that, upon being shown the video of the onboard camera, the accused admitted having missed the red traffic light and requested that the traffic violation notification system should apply to him/her. On April 5, 2016, the public prosecutor prosecuted the accused, and the court of first instance held a trial and examined the case, and on June 14, 2016, it found the same facts as the charged facts and rendered a judgment to sentence the accused to a fine of 9,000 yen.

2. The court of prior instance determined as follows. It should be said that the accused refused to receive the traffic violation notice partly due to the insincere response of the police officers who denied the existence of the video of the onboard camera and refused to present it although the video actually existed, and therefore, it would be contrary to good faith for the police officers to have decided, while forgetting their own faults, that the accused's case falls under Article 130, item (ii) of the Road Traffic Act, arguing that the accused's refusal to receive the traffic violation notice cannot be rendered ineffective. It is reasonable to consider that such a case as this one, in which the accused expressed the intention to receive the traffic violation notice quickly after being shown the video of the onboard camera, does not fall under the same item even though the accused once refused to receive the traffic violation notice.

However, as indicated in the facts mentioned above, the accused denied having missed the red traffic light and refused to receive the traffic violation notice when the police officers explained to the accused the content of the traffic violation notice and the traffic violation notification system, and therefore it is clear that the accused's case falls under Article 130, item (ii) of the Road Traffic Act. Even if, in response to the accused's request to present to him/her the video of the onboard camera which was the evidence of the accused's having missed the red traffic light, the police officers denied the existence of such video although the video actually existed, this should not be regarded as constituting a reason for denying the applicability of the same item under the traffic violation notification system. Consequently, it cannot be said that the court of first instance unlawfully accepted the prosecution of this case.

3. For the reasons stated above, the judgment in prior instance that denied the applicability of Article 130, item (ii) of the Road Traffic Act on the grounds that it would be contrary to good faith to consider that this case falls under the same item is illegal due to the erroneous interpretation and application of laws and regulations and such illegality obviously affects the judgment, and hence it would be extremely unjust if the judgment in prior instance were not quashed.

In conclusion, in accordance with Article 411, item (i) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Court quashes the judgment in prior instance. According to the consideration above, the appeal filed by the accused based on the arguments of violation of laws and regulations and inappropriate sentencing is groundless. Therefore, the Court dismisses the appeal in accordance with the proviso to Article 413, Article 414, and Article 396 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and applies the proviso to Article 181, paragraph (1) of the same Code to the court costs for the prior instance and this instance. The Court unanimously decides as set forth in the main text of the judgment. There is a concurring opinion of Justice IKEGAMI Masayuki.

The concurring opinion of Justice IKEGAMI Masayuki is as follows.

I agree with the court opinion and would like to give my opinion to supplement the reasons for it.

The traffic violation notification system is a system for providing persons who committed acts that constitute a certain scope of minor violations of the Road Traffic Act with the opportunity to pay a penalty by giving them a notice from the police officer and a notice from the chief of the prefectural police, and exempting such violators who have paid penalties voluntarily in response to these notices from being prosecuted for their acts of violation. This system was established as an administrative measure to ensure simplified and prompt handling of traffic violation cases (1980 (Gyo-Tsu) No. 137, the judgment of the First Petty Bench of the Supreme Court of July 15, 1982, Minshu Vol. 36, No. 6, at 1169).

Under this system, in light of its nature as described above, the police officer, when finding a person to be a violator, must promptly notify that person via a document of the essential facts constituting the violation, the category of violation and other matters, except in cases such as when the person's residence or name is unclear (Article 126, paragraph (1) of the Road Traffic Act), and that document must include the necessary information to allow the person to understand the procedures under the traffic violation notification system (paragraph (2) of the same Article). However, when delivering that document, the police officer is not required to do more than what is described above, such as presenting any materials or evidence showing the facts constituting the violation or providing information on these materials in response to the violator's request. In addition, these facts constituting the violation and the identity of the person who committed the violation are determined through the investigation of the crime of violation of the same Act, and it is impossible to find a reason to consider that as part of the investigation procedure, the police officer, in the capacity of judicial police personnel, must present or disclose any collected evidence to the violator who is suspected of having committed the crime. Even by examining the Police Act and other related laws and regulations pointed out by the defense counsel in this instance, no legal basis can be found to consider that the police officer must present or disclose such evidence.

Considering the above, based on the facts of this case, even though, in response to the accused's request to present him/her the video of the onboard camera which would prove the accused's having missed the red traffic light, the police officers denied the existence of such video although the video actually existed, such behavior of the police officers would not create any misunderstanding of the procedures under the traffic violation notification system. The police officers explained the content of the traffic violation notice and tried to deliver it to the accused in accordance with the abovementioned provisions of the Road Traffic Act, but the accused denied the facts constituting the violation and refused to receive the notice. Thus, it is clear that the accused's case constitutes the case where the violator "refused to receive the document" as prescribed in Article 130, item (ii) of the same Act, and there are no such circumstances due to which the applicability of the same item should be negated.

Consequently, it cannot be said that the procedure for instituting the prosecution of this case is ineffective because of violation of the relevant provisions (Article 338, item (iv) of the Code of Criminal Procedure), and the court of first instance cannot be deemed to have unlawfully accepted the prosecution (Article 378, item (ii) of the same Code).

Public Prosecutor, NISHITANI Takashi, attended the trial.
Justice KIZAWA Katsuyuki

Justice IKEGAMI Masayuki

Justice KOIKE Hiroshi

Justice YAMAGUCHI Atsushi

Justice MIYAMA Takuya
(This translation is provisional and subject to revision.)