White paper on crime 2010 Part6/Section4
The Japan Judicial Support Center (known as “Houterasu”) was established in April 2006 as a core general support system that was based upon the Comprehensive Legal Support Act. The Center has its main office in Tokyo but also branch offices in regions where the main offices of the respective district courts are located, and first commenced providing its services on October 2, 2006.
In collaboration and cooperation with the relevant agencies and organizations the Japan Judicial Support Center provides services that enhance the provision of information and thus contribute to more effective use of the system used for legal dispute resolutions, services that make legal aid available in civil affairs, and services concerning legal businesses in judicial shortage areas that face difficulty in finding defense counsels, etc. Services in support of crime victims, etc. and concerning the selection of court-appointed defense counsels are also being provided within the area of criminal justice.
The services in support of crime victims, etc. include the provision, over the telephone and at the respective offices, of information on the appropriate involvement of victims, etc. in criminal procedures and systems to help them recover from the damage they suffered or to mitigate their pain, along with an introduction to the activities of crime victim support organizations, etc. or lawyers who are well versed in providing crime victim support. A total of 10,429 cases involved use of the services in FY 2009 (up 1,888 cases from the previous year) via counseling over the crime victim support hotline, 15,616 cases (up 4,213 cases (id.)) involved inquiries being made to district offices for information on crime damage or criminal procedures, etc., and 898 cases (up 202 cases (id.)) where lawyers well versed in providing crime victim support were introduced to victims. The number of cases where victim participants (victims, etc. whom the court allowed to participate in criminal trials) applied for a court-appointed defense counsel to aid them in that participation (request for designation notification) was 204 (total of 238 persons) in FY 2009. By type of offense the number was large for rape/forcible indecency (33.3%), homicide (excluding participation in suicide and homicide with consent) (24.5%), injury (15.7%), and negligence in vehicle driving causing death or injury (15.2%) (Source: Japan Judicial Support Center).
With regard to services concerning the selection of court-appointed defense counsels, when it is necessary for a court-appointed defense counsel to be selected for a suspect or defendant the Japan Judicial Support Center shall, upon request of a court, notify the courts, etc. of lawyers (including full-time lawyers) contracted with the Center as candidate for court-appointed defense counsels, and enables those selected to then fulfill their duties. The number of cases in which the Japan Judicial Support Center was engaged to assist in the selection of a court-appointed defense counsel in FY 2009 was 61,857 for suspects and 74,658 (up 4,902 from the previous year) for defendants. In addition, the number of cases accepted by the center concerning the selection of a court-appointed attendant for juvenile hearings was 552 (up 19 (id.)) (Source: Japan Judicial Support Center).