Act on Marine Accident Inquiry

Link to law: http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail_download/?ff=08&id=2081
Published: 2008

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Act on Marine Accident Inquiry

Table of Contents

Chapter I General Provisions (Articles 1 to 6)

Chapter II Organization and Jurisdiction of Japan Marine Accident Tribunal

Section 1 Organization (Articles 7 to 15)

Section 2 Jurisdiction (Articles 16 to 18)

Chapter III Counselor (Articles 19 to 23)

Chapter IV Proceedings Prior to Inquiry (Articles 24 to 29)

Chapter V Inquiry (Articles 30 to 43)

Chapter VI Suit against Revocation of Determination (Articles 44 to 46)

Chapter VII Execution of Determination (Articles 47 to 51)

Chapter VIII Miscellaneous Provisions (Articles 52 to 57)

Chapter I General Provisions

(Purpose)

Article 1 The purpose of this Act is to specify the proceedings of inquiry, etc. , at the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal established in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to perform a disciplinary action on a marine technician, a small craft operator, or a pilot who causes a marine accident intentionally or negligently in the course of duties, thereby contributing to prevent occurrences of such accidents.

(Definition)

Article 2 In this Act, the word "marine accident" means the following:

(i) Any damage to a vessel in relation to the operation of the vessel or to facilities other than vessels

(ii) Death or injury of a person caused in relation to the structure, facilities, or operation of a vessel

(iii) Impairment of safety or operation of a vessel

(Disciplinary Action)

Article 3 The Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall perform a disciplinary action on a marine technician (including a person who has been approved under the provision of paragraph (1) of Article 23 of Seaman and Small Craft Operator Act (Act No. 149 of 1951). The same shall apply in Article 8 and paragraph (1) of Article 28) or a small craft operator or a pilot by determination, if a marine accident is caused intentionally or negligently in the course of duties.

(Kinds of Disciplinary Actions)

Article 4 (1) Disciplinary actions shall consist of the following three (3) kinds, and shall be applied in accordance with the gravity of each offence:

(i) Revocation of license (including the approval provided for in paragraph (1) of Article 23 of Seaman and Small Craft Operator Act; The same shall apply in Article 49 and Article 51);

(ii) Suspension of business operation;

(iii) Admonition.

(2) The period of suspension of business operation shall be for not less than one (1) month but not more than three years.

(Exemption from Action)

Article 5 The Japan Marine Accident Tribunal may particularly exempt a person from a disciplinary action, when the tribunal finds it unnecessary to inflict such a disciplinary action in light of the nature or situations of the marine accident, historical record of the person, and other circumstances.

(Effect of Determination)

Article 6 The Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall not inquire a case for which the final and binding determination of merits has been already fixed.

Chapter II Organization and Jurisdiction of Marine Accident Tribunal

Section 1 Organization

(Establishment)

Article 7 The Japan Marine Accident Tribunal is established in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as a special organ.

(Mission)

Article 8 The mission of Japan Marine Accident Tribunal is to investigate the causes of marine accidents and conduct an inquiry to inflict a disciplinary action on a marine technician or a small craft operator or a pilot.

(Affairs under the Jurisdiction)

Article 9 For the purpose of achieving the mission referred to in the preceding Article, the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall take charge of the following duties:

(i) To investigate a marine accident of an application for examination;

(ii) To conduct an inquiry;

(iii) To enforce a determination;

(iv) To supervise Maritime Counselors; and

(v) To handle other matters concerning the inquiry of marine accidents, in addition to those listed in each of the foregoing items.

(Commissioner of Japan Marine Accident Tribunal)

Article 10 The head of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall be the Commissioner of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal and be appointed from the Judges.

(Local Marine Accident Tribunal)

Article 11 (1) A Local Marine Accident Tribunal shall be located at a predetermined region so as to allow it to handle a part of works of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal.

(2) The names, locations, jurisdiction districts, and internal organizations of the Local Marine Accident Tribunals shall be provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Judges and Investigators)

Article 12 (1) Judges and Investigators shall be appointed at the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal.

(2) An Investigator shall take charge of an application for examination, and the investigation of a marine accident and the execution of a determination related thereto.

(3) The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism shall appoint Judges and Investigators among those who are provided for in a Cabinet Ordinance as experts having knowledge and experience concerning the necessary laws and marine matters pertaining to investigations of marine matters and conduct of inquiries.

(4) The fixed number of Judges and Investigators shall be provided for in a Cabinet Ordinance.

(Exercise of Authority)

Article 13 A Judge shall independently exercise its authority.

(Constitution)

Article 14 (1) The Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall conduct an inquiry through a panel consisting of three (3) judges. However, one (1) judge shall conduct an inquiry at a Local Marine Accident Tribunal.

(2) When a Judge finds it inappropriate to conduct an inquiry of a case by one judge at a Local Marine Accident Tribunal, the judge may make a decision to the effect that the inquiry is conducted by a panel consisting of three (3) judges notwithstanding the preceding provision.

(3) One (1) Judge shall be a presiding judge out of the three judges, if an inquiry is conducted by a panel.

(Delegation to Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)

Article 15 The locations and internal organizations of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunals shall be provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Section 2 Jurisdiction

(Jurisdiction of Cases)

Article 16 (1) A Local Marine Accident Tribunal having jurisdiction over a location where a marine accident took place has jurisdiction over cases of marine accidents other than marine accidents accompanied with death of passengers and such other major marine accidents as provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism out of cases of marine accidents that should be inquired (a Local Marine Accident Tribunal has jurisdiction over the home port of registry of a vessel related to a marine accident, if a location where the marine accident took place is not known).

(2) When a case is pending at two (2) or more Local Marine Accident Tribunals, the case shall be inquired by the Local Marine Accident Tribunal that first received the request for the commencement of the inquiry.

(3) The jurisdiction over case that occurs outside Japanese territory shall be provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Transfer of Cases)

Article 17 (1) A Local Marine Accident Tribunal, when it finds that a case does not fall under its jurisdiction, it shall transfer the case by a decision to a competent Local Marine Accident Tribunal.

(2) The Local Marine Accident Tribunal to which the case has been transferred pursuant to the provision of the preceding paragraph may not further transfer the case to another Local Marine Accident Tribunal.

(3) In case provided for in paragraph (1), the case shall be deemed as having been pending from the beginning in the Local Marine Accident Tribunal to which the case has been transferred.

(Change of Jurisdiction)

Article 18 (1) An Investigator or an Examinee may request the Commissioner of Japan Marine Accident Tribunal to make the disposition of the change of jurisdiction of a case, as provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(2) In case where the request pursuant to the provision of the preceding paragraph is made, when the Commissioner of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal finds it convenient to conduct an inquiry, he/she may change the jurisdiction over the case.

Chapter III Counselor

(Appointment of Counselor)

Article 19 An Examinee may appoint his Counselor in accordance with the provisions set forth in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Authority of Counselor)

Article 20 In addition to what is provided for in this Act, a Counselor may independently perform its duties to the extent those provided for in this Act and in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Requirements of Maritime Counselor, etc.)

Article 21 (1) A Counselor shall be appointed from among those registered as Maritime Counselors at the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal; provided, however, that this shall not apply to the case where a third party is authorized to be a counselor by the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal.

(2) Matters concerning qualification and registration of Maritime Counselors shall be provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Obligation of Maritime Counselor)

Article 22 (1) A Maritime Counselor shall perform his duties sincerely.

(2) A Maritime Counselor shall not disclose secrets obtained in the course of duties.

(Supervision for Maritime Counselor)

Article 23 A Maritime Counselor shall be subject to the supervision of the Commissioner of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal.

Chapter IV Proceedings Prior to Inquiry

(Reporting Occurrence of Marine Accidents)

Article 24 (1) When the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (a Japanese Consulate in case he/she performs works of the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (1) of Article 103 of the Act of Seaman (Act No. 100 of 1947)) receives a report of a marine accident pursuant to the provision of Article 19 of the same Act or comes to know the occurrence of a marine accident, it shall immediately inform it to an Investigator of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal having jurisdiction.

(2) When a Coast Guard Officer, police officer, or mayor of a municipality comes to know the occurrence of a marine accident, they shall immediately inform it to the Investigator of a Local Marine Accident Tribunal having jurisdiction.

(Investigation by Investigator)

Article 25 When an Investigator recognizes a fact to be inquired under this Act, he/she shall immediately investigate facts and collect evidence thereof.

(Obligation of Investigator)

Article 26 In investigating facts and collecting evidence, an Investigator shall keep confidential and shall be cautious not to defame persons concerned.

(Disposition for Investigation)

Article 27 (1) An Investigator may make any of the following dispositions if necessary to perform his/her duties:

(i) To summon or question the persons concerned in a marine accident;

(ii) To investigate vessel(s) or other place(s);

(iii) To make person(s) concerned in a marine accident to report, or to order them to submit books, documents or other articles;

(iv) To request the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan Transport Safety Board, Commissioner of Japan Meteorological Agency, Commissioner of Japan Coast Guard, and other related administrative organs, to submit reports or data;

(v) To summon expert witnesses, interpreters or translators, and request them to give expert opinion or interpret or translate in the course of an inquiry.

(2) In carrying out any disposition set forth in item (ii) of the preceding paragraph, an Investigator shall carry a certificate of identification.

(Request for Commencement of Inquiry)

Article 28 (1) When an Investigator recognizes that a marine accident took place due to intentional or negligent act of a maritime officer, small craft operator or pilot in the course of performing his/her duties, it shall file a petition for commencement of inquiry to a Local Marine Accident Tribunal, designating him/her as an Examinee; provided, however, that it may not file a petition for commencement for inquiry regarding any case for which five years have already elapsed since the occurrence of the marine accident.

(2) The petition set forth in the preceding paragraph shall be made in writing describing the facts of the marine accident and the details of the intentional or negligent act committed in the course of duties of the Examinee.

(Notification)

Article 29 An Investigator shall notify the Examinee that a petition for commencement of an inquiry is filed in accordance with the provisions of an Ordinance of the Ministry of land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Chapter V Inquiry

(Commencement of Inquiry)

Article 30 The Local Marine Accident Tribunal shall commence inquiry upon receipt of the petition of the Investigator.

(Publicity of Inquiry)

Article 31 Inquiry and determination shall be conducted at a tribunal open to public.

(Authority of Presiding Judge)

Article 32 (1) The Presiding Judge or one (1) Judge who has commenced an inquiry shall preside over the inquiry and maintain an order at the tribunal during the inquiry.

(2) The Presiding Judge or one (1) Judge who has commenced an inquiry may order any person who disturbs the inquiry to leave the tribunal room, or may take any other measures necessary to maintain order at the tribunal.

(Examination of Examinee)

Article 33 The Local Marine Accident Tribunal may summon the Examinee at the date for inquiry and may examine him/her.

(Oral Proceedings)

Article 34 The determination shall be rendered based on oral arguments; provided, however, that the determination may be made without hearing his/her statements, if the Examinee fails to appear on the date for inquiry without justifiable grounds,

(Examination of Evidence)

Article 35 (1) The Local Marine Accident Tribunal may examine the necessary evidence either with motion or by tribunal's authority.

(2) Prior to the date for the first inquiry, no Local Marine Accident Tribunal may examine evidence otherwise than the following ones:

(i) Investigate vessel(s) or other place(s);

(ii) Order to submit books, documents or other articles;

(iii) Request the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan Safety Transport Board, Commissioner of Japan Meteorological Agency, Commissioner of Japan Coast Guard, and other related administrative organs, to submit reports or data.

(3) The Local Marine Accident Tribunal may not arrest, seize, search, or make any other compulsory disposition to person, thing or place, or make any decision on a non-penal fine.

(Oath)

Article 36 In the case that a Japan Maritime Accident Tribunal requests a witness to testify, an expert witness to give an expert opinion, an interpreter to interpret or a translator to translate in examining evidence set forth in paragraph (1) of the preceding Article, it shall have such person take an oath in accordance with the proceedings provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; provided, however, that persons provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism may not be required to take an oath.

(Fact Finding by Evidence)

Article 37 Facts shall be found on the basis of evidence examined on the date for inquiry.

(Free Evaluation of Evidence)

Article 38 The probative value of evidence shall be judged at the discretion of the Judges.

(Dismissal of Petition for Commencement of Inquiry)

Article 39 The Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall dismiss a petition for commencement of inquiry by a determination in the event that:

(i) The tribunal has no jurisdiction;

(ii) The petition for the commencement of inquiry violates the rules of the Tribunal; or

(iii) The inquiry is not allowed by virtue of the provisions of Article 6 or paragraph (2) of Article 16.

(Form of Determination)

Article 40 A determination shall be reasoned.

Article 41 The determination on the merits shall clarify the facts of a marine accident and the details of intentional or negligent act of the Examinee in the course of performing his/her duties, and also indicate the reason for the finding of such facts by evidence; provided, however, that when it is found that no such accident occurred, it would be sufficient to declare to that effect.

(Announcement of Determination)

Article 42 The announcement of a determination shall be made by the rendition at the tribunal of inquiry.

(Delegation to Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)

Article 43 In addition to those provided for in this Act, necessary matters in connection with the inquiry procedure shall be provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Chapter VI Request for Revocation of Determination

(Request for Revocation of Determination)

Article 44 (1) A request by lawsuit for revocation of the determination is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Tokyo High Court.

(2) The lawsuit under the preceding paragraph shall be filed within thirty (30) days after the date on which the determination concerned is rendered.

(3) The period in the preceding paragraph shall not be subject to extension or reduction.

(Standing as Defendant)

Article 45 In the lawsuit in paragraph (1) in the preceding Article, the Commissioner of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall be the defendant.

(Revocation of Determination)

Article 46 (1) The court shall revoke the determination if it believes that the claim is reasonable.

(2) In case of the preceding paragraph, the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal shall further conduct an inquiry.

(3) The reasons given for the revocation of a determination in the judicial decision of a court shall bind the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal.

Chapter VII Execution of Determination

(Period for Execution of Determination)

Article 47 A determination shall be executed after it becomes final and binding.

(Execution officer of Determination)

Article 48 An investigator shall execute the determination of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal.

(Execution of Revocation of Determination of License)

Article 49 When a determination of revocation of license is rendered, an Investigator shall confiscate the seamen's competency certificate (including the approval certificate provided for in paragraph (1) of Article 7 of on Ship Operator and Small Craft Operator Act, applied mutatis mutandis with necessary replacement by virtue of paragraph (7) of Article 23 of the same Act; the same shall apply in the next Article and Article 51) or the seaman's competency certificate, boat operator certificate or pilot certificate, and shall forward the same to the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Execution of Determination of Suspension of Business Operation)

Article 50 When a determination to suspend business operation is rendered, an Investigator shall confiscate the seaman's competency certificate of the small craft operator certificate or the pilot certificate and shall return the same to the holder thereof after the period of the suspension expires.

(Public Notice of Nullity of Seaman's Competency Certificate, etc.)

Article 51 When a person to whom the revocation of license or suspension of business operation is rendered fails to submit his/her seaman's competency certificate or the small craft operator certificate or pilot certificate, the Investigator shall pronounce such certificates null and void and give a public notice of the same in the Official Gazette.

Chapter VIII Miscellaneous Provisions

(Expenses of Witness, etc.)

Article 52 (1) Travel expenses, daily allowances and accommodation charges as provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of Land, infrastructure, Transport and Tourism shall be paid to expert witnesses, appraisers, interpreters, and translators who appear before the tribunal pursuant to the provisions of this Act.

(2) Expert witnesses, interpreters or translators may request fees for expert opinion, interpretation or translation, as provided for respectively in the Cabinet Order.

(Exclusion from Application of Administrative Procedure Act)

Article 53 Provisions of Chapters II to IV inclusive of Administrative Procedure Act (Act No.88 of 1993) shall not apply to dispositions and administrative guidance's done pursuant to this Act.

(Administrative Appeals by Administrative Complaint Review Act)

Article 54 No appeal in accordance with Administrative Complaint Review Act (Act No. 160 of 1962) may be made with regard to any disposal taken by this Act.

(Delegation to Ordinance of the Ministry of land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism)

Article 55 In addition to what is provided for in this Act, administration of affaires of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal and other matters required for the enforcement of this Act shall be provided for in the Ordinance of the Ministry of land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

(Non-penal Fine)

Article 56 Any person who falls under any of the following items shall be sentenced to a non-penal fine of not more than three hundred thousand (300,000) yen:

(i) A person who fails to appear at a tribunal without justifiable grounds in spite of repeated summons as an Examinee by the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal;

(ii) A person who fails to appear at a tribunal or perform duties with no justifiable grounds after he/she has been summoned as a witness, appraiser, interpreter or translator by the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal;

(iii) A person who refuses, obstructs or evades the inspection of the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal; or

(iv) A person who fails to submit books, documents, or other articles ordered to submit by the Japan Marine Accident Tribunal, or submits ones with falsified entries.

Article 57 Any person who has failed to comply with an order of the Presiding Judge or one (1) Judge that commences an inquiry under paragraph (2) of Article 37 shall be sentenced to a non-penal fine of not more than one hundred thousand (100,000) yen.