Section 4 Activities of Houterasu

Houterasu was established in April 2006 to play a core role in the general support system based on the Comprehensive Legal Support Act. The Center has its main office in Tokyo but also branch offices in regions where 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, Houterasu 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, both over the telephone and in person 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 of lawyers who are well versed in the activities of crime victim support organizations, etc. and in providing crime victim support. A total of 10,482 cases (up 53 from the previous year) utilized the services in FY 2010 through counseling over the crime victim support hotline, 14,089 cases (down 1,527 (id.)) reached information on crime damage recovery or criminal procedures, etc., at district offices, and 929 cases (up 31 (id.)) were introduced to lawyers well versed in providing crime victim support. The number of cases where victim participants (victims, etc. whom the court allowed to participate in criminal trials) applied for court-appointed defense counsel to aid them in that participation (request for designation notification) was 231 (total of 299 persons requested) in FY 2010. By type of offense, the number was large for rape/forcible indecency (33.3%), injury (21.6%), homicide (excluding inducing or aiding suicide and homicide with consent) (17.3%), and negligence in vehicle driving causing death or injury (13.4%) (Source: Houterasu).

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 Houterasu shall, upon request of a court, notify the courts, etc. of lawyers (including full-time lawyers) contracted with Houterasu as candidate court-appointed defense counsels, and enables those selected to then fulfill their duties. The number of cases in which Houterasu was engaged to assist in the selection of court-appointed defense counsels in FY 2010 was 70,917 cases (up 9,060 from the previous year) for suspects as described earlier, and 69,634 cases (down 5,024 (id.)) for defendants. In addition, the number of cases accepted by the center concerning the selection of a court-appointed attendant for juvenile hearings was 423 (down 129 (id.)) (Source: Houterasu).