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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 January 19 - 25  > Court orders police to delete personal data of innocent man
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2022 January 19 - 25 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Court orders police to delete personal data of innocent man

January 19, 2022

The Nagoya District Court on January 18 ordered the Police Agency to delete personal data of a man who had been found "not guilty", including his DNA information, fingerprints, and face photo, from the police database.

Okuda Yasumasa, 65, was involved in a residents' movement opposing the construction of a high-rise condominium near his house in Nagoya City. In 2016, he was arrested and indicted on falsified charges. Without explaining anything to him, the police took his mug shot, had him fingerprinted, and obtained his DNA sample. Okuda, after his acquittal judgement was finalized in 2018, filed a lawsuit demanding police deletion of his personal data.

The court ruled that it is unacceptable for the police to store in its database the information of the person whose case had proven to be "not a crime", adding that storing his personal data can bring unease to the man since how his data may be used in the future is uncertain.

After the ruling, Okuda said, "I'm glad that the court again recognized that I am 'not a criminal'."

His lawyer said, "It was a good ruling which responded to Okuda's demand. He wanted to return to who he was before his arrest."

* * *

According to materials Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Motomura Nobuko obtained from the Police Agency through an information disclosure request, the DNA of a total of 1,533,200 suspects were collected between 2005 and the end of 2021 and registered in the police database.

However, there is no legal ground in Japan which allows the police to collect and store the DNA of accused persons. The police, based on its internal regulations, stores the DNA information in its database. In effect, the police have a free hand in deciding how they manage and use the database.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has been calling for the suspension of DNA collection by the police to compile its database. Some European countries, the United States, South Korea, and Taiwan have legislation dealing with the collection and storage of DNA samples. Japan should also impose legal restrictions on handling DNA samples.

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