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, as a reform to use in establishing a “judicial system that better meets the expectations of the general public,” regarding more complete and prompt criminal trials, the preparation of a court-appointed defense counsel system at investigation stage before prosecution, the appropriate institution of public prosecution, a more appropriate investigation/trial procedure in response to a new era, and better support for the rehabilitation of offenders and strengthening protection of victims, etc., [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 lay judge system was recommended in thus “establishing the foundation of a judicial system supported by the public.”

The recommendations of the said council resulted in the Act for Partial Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure, etc. (Act No. 62 of 2004), which introduces various measures to use in reforming the criminal justice system, and the Lay Judge Act, which establishes a system that enables the general public to participate in the process of judicial trial in serious criminal cases as lay judge, then being enacted. Systems including a pretrial arrangement proceeding and speedy trial procedure were introduced one by one from November 2005, and the lay judge system was commenced 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 Inquest of Prosecution have both started being used (See (1) of Subsection 1, Section 1, Chapter 2, Part 5). In addition, 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 enacted, thus leading to the establishment of the Japan Judicial Support Center (known as “Houterasu”), which commenced service provision on October 2, 2006.