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2 Legal system development supportAs part of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy, Japan has been conducting legal system development support activities for developing Asian countries, etc. since 1994.
Legal system development support includes support in preparing draft laws, development of law enforcement systems, and human resource development of law experts to engage in such activities in developing countries, etc.
Establishment of the “rule of law” and appropriate functioning of the legal system in developing countries leads to stabilization of their politics, society, and economy, and makes continuous development that then leads to stability and development throughout the region. This process is an essential prerequisite for the safety and development of Japan today as international interdependency further deepens. For this reason, there has been heightened recognition of the importance of legal system development support in recent years. This importance was pointed out in the general principle of ODA (revised version decided by cabinet in August 2003), and the importance of promoting legal system development support was stipulated in the middle term policies of ODA (decided by the cabinet in February 2005). In addition, the Overseas Economic Cooperation Council of the cabinet confirmed in January 2008 that legal system development support is of great importance and that it should be promoted in a strategic manner, and in April 2009 approved the “Basic Guidelines for Legal System Development Support.” Furthermore, the Concluding Declaration of the G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting in June 2008 also stipulated the importance of technical assistance in the legal field, such as in the development of legal systems and preparation of basic laws and judicial training.
The International Cooperation Department, Research and Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice, which is specifically in charge of legal system development support at the Ministry of Justice, plays a key role in carrying out most of the specific legal system development support activities in Japan within the framework of the technical cooperation project for developing countries implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
In the field of criminal justice, support has been furnished to date for Vietnam and Laos through the formulation of a “Public Prosecutors Manual” and promotion activities, etc. in order to improve both the practices and abilities of the public prosecutors in the Supreme People’s Procuracy in those countries. In FY 2008, the “Support Project for Legal and Judicial System Reform in Vietnam” was conducted through activities aimed at improving the practices and abilities of judges and public prosecutors, etc. by analyzing current criminal trial practices, identifying any issues and providing measures to correct them, and through assistance in formulating the continuation of the abovementioned “Public Prosecutors Manual.” This project was implemented mainly by public prosecutors dispatched for long-term as experts by the International Cooperation Department within the Research and Training Institute of the Ministry of Justice. These activities are currently ongoing. In FY 2009, executives of the Justice Department in East Timor were invited and training was conducted with the aim of improving their ability to prepare draft laws, using the extradition of fugitive offenders and drug control related acts as subject matter. In addition, as part of support for Vietnam to amend its Code of Criminal Procedures, there is a plan to invite officials of the Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam in charge of preparing draft laws to Japan to conduct training on the criminal justice system.