Section 1 Introduction

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

The Justice System Reform Council compiled Recommendations of the Council in June 2001. Within the criminal justice system, [1] various concrete recommendations that encompassed reforms to establish a “judicial system that better meets the expectations of the general public,” including more complete and prompt criminal trials, the preparation of a court-appointed defense counsel system for suspects in the investigative stage before prosecution, the appropriate institution of public prosecution, a more appropriate investigation/trial procedure in response to a new era, and consideration in the rehabilitation of offenders and the protection of victims, etc., [2] reform of the lawyer system being set forth in thereby enhancing “the performance of the legal professionals that support the judicial system,” and [3] the introduction of the lay judge system to “establish the foundation of a judicial system that is supported by the public” were included.

The recommendations of the said council resulted in the Act for Partial Revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, etc. (Act No. 62 of 2004), which introduced various measures to use in reforming the criminal justice system, along with the Act on Criminal Trials Examined under Lay Judge System (hereinafter referred to as the “Lay Judge Act”), which established a system that enabled the general public to participate in the process of criminal trials involving serious criminal cases as lay judges, then being enacted. Systems, including a pretrial arrangement proceeding and speedy trial procedure, were sequentially introduced from November 2005, and the lay judge system commenced on May 21, 2009. In addition, a court-appointed defense counsel system for detained suspects and a system in which prosecution can be instituted based on a decision made by a Committee for Inquest of Prosecution have both been enforced (See (1) of Subsection 3, Section 1, Chapter 2, Part 5). In addition, and 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 use in resolving legal disputes, was enacted, thus leading to the establishment of the Japan Legal Support Center (known as “Houterasu”), and which commenced service provision on October 2, 2006.