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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 23 - 29  > Japan’s juvenile training school law revised based on UN treaty
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2014 July 23 - 29 [WELFARE]

Japan’s juvenile training school law revised based on UN treaty

July 25, 2014
Japan revised its Juvenile Training School Act for the first time in 65 years in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and will enforce the new legislation within 18 months.

Compared to the previous law containing just 20 articles, the new law is very detailed (with 147 articles) in order to improve the treatment of juvenile delinquents and to enhance the transparency of training school operations.

In Japan, courts of domestic relations decide whether to send juvenile offenders to a juvenile training school or not.

The old law briefly indicated that these facilities offer correctional education to delinquent youth.

The revised law, however, requires in its first article that the fundamental human rights of juvenile delinquents be respected, and that appropriate correctional education be provided. The provision also articulates that by doing so, those institutions help improve their potential to remake their lives and help in their smooth return to society.

Article 15 of the new law stipulates that “the best interests” of a person in such schools “shall be a primary consideration” in view of the circumstances such as her/his personality, age, development, delinquent actions, and family environment.

The new law incorporates “the best interests of the child” by modeling itself after Article 3 of the UN Convention which Japan ratified in 1994.

Asakawa Michio, former family court probation officer, said, “I highly evaluate the revised law as it reflects the present-day values of society in regard to the treatment of children.”

Under the new law, anyone in juvenile training schools can file a complaint to the Minister of Justice regarding treatment she/he received at the facility.

The ex-officer said, “Many people still think that such juvenile centers are places to punish children who did something wrong. I hope the new law will help promote respect for the fundamental human rights of children. In this regard, the revision has great significance.”
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