Section 1 Introduction

1 Reformations based on recommendations made by the Justice System Reform Council

The Justice System Reform Council compiled Recommendations of the Justice System Reform Council in June 2001. In the area of the criminal justice system [1] various concrete recommendations were provided regarding complete and prompt criminal trials, the preparation of a court-appointed defense counsel system, the appropriate institution of public prosecution, a more appropriate investigation/trial procedure, and consideration for the rehabilitation of offenders and protection of victims, etc. in response to a new era as a reform to use in establishing a “judicial system that better meets the expectations of the general public,” [2] reform of the lawyer system was set forth in enhancing “the performance of the legal professionals that support the judicial system,” and [3] the introduction of the Saiban-in (lay judge) system was recommended for use in thus “establishing the foundation of judicial system that is supported by the public.”

The recommendations of the said council resulted in the Act for Partial Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedures, etc. (Act No. 62 of 2004), which introduces various measures to use in reforming the criminal justice system, and the Saiban-in Act, which establishes a system that enabling the general public to participate in the process of judicial proceedings involving serious criminal cases as Saiban-in, then being enacted. Systems including a pretrial arrangement proceeding and speedy trial procedure were introduced from November 2005, with use of the Saiban-in system commencing from when the Saiban-in Act came into force on May 21, 2009. In addition, a court-appointed defense counsel system for suspects being detained and a system in which prosecution can be instituted based on a resolution made by a Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution have both started being used (See (1) of Subsection 1, Section 1, Chapter 2, Part 5). Also based on a recommendation 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, thus leading to the establishment of the Japan Judicial Support Center (known as “Houterasu”), which commenced service provision in October 2, 2006.

The Saiban-in system, court-appointed defense counsel system, and activities of Houterasu are described below in more detail.