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 White paper on crime 2009 Part6/Section1/1 

1 Reform based on recommendations from the Justice System Reform Council

  The Justice System Reform Council that was established under the Cabinet in July 1999 compiled the Recommendations of the Justice System Reform Council in June 2001 and formulated the following three points as basic judicial system reform policies: [1] reform in establishing a “judicial system that meets the expectations of the general public,” [2] reform in “the performance of legal professionals to support the judicial system,” and [3] the introduction of a system in which the general public participate in the process of judicial proceedings in “establishing the foundations of judicial system supported by the public.” In the area of the criminal justice system, with regard to [1], various concrete recommendations for reform were provided regarding complete and prompt criminal trials, the preparation of court-appointed defense counsel system, the proper institution of public prosecution, an appropriate investigation/trial procedure in response to a new age, and consideration for the rehabilitation of offenders and protection of victims, etc. With regard to [2], reform of the judicial system was set forth, and the introduction of the Saiban-in (lay judge) system was recommended under [3].
  In May 2004, based on the recommendations of the said council, the Act for Partial Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedures, etc., which introduces various measures for criminal justice system reform, etc., and the Saiban-in Act, which establishes a system in which the general public participate in the process of judicial proceedings of serious criminal cases as Saiban-in were enacted. Systems including the pretrial conference procedure and speedy trial procedure, were introduced, and the Saiban-in system commenced when the Saiban-in Act came into force on May 21, 2009. In addition, court-appointed defense counsel system at the stage of detention of suspects was introduced and a system in which prosecution can be instituted based on a resolution made by the Committees for the Inquest of Prosecution on certain conditions came into operation (See (1) of Subsection 1, Section 1, Chapter 2, Part 5). Also based on the recommendations made by the said council, the Comprehensive Legal Support Act, which aims at developing a comprehensive support system through which people nationwide can be provided with the necessary information and services to resolve legal disputes, was approved in June 2004. This led to the establishment of the Japan Judicial Support Center (known as “Houterasu”), which now provides services in this area.
  The Saiban-in system, court-appointed defense counsel system, and activities of Houterasu are described below further in details.