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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 August 20 - 26  > JCP calls for introduction of ‘lay judge system’ to be delayed
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2008 August 20 - 26 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

JCP calls for introduction of ‘lay judge system’ to be delayed

August 8, 2008
The Japanese Communist Party on August 7 called for the introduction of the ‘lay judge system” to be delayed on the grounds that a national consensus has not been formed and that there has been little progress in the establishment of any institutional guarantee that there be no cases of false charges.

The “lay judge system” that Japan plans to introduce in May 2009 to allow ordinary citizens to take part in criminal trials was enacted in 2004. Six citizens will be chosen at random to serve as lay-judges sitting with three professional judges in the first trials involving serious crimes.

At a news conference on August 7, JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi said, “The JCP in 2004 voted for the introduction of the lay judge system as a step forward for democratic jurisprudence. However, we have said that we did not support it unconditionally and that improvements in conditions for implementing it is necessary.”

Citing an opinion survey in March that showed that 72 percent of the respondents said they are reluctant to take part in criminal proceedings as lay judges, Ichida said the “lay judge system” is not supported by the majority of citizens.

He also pointed out that while no one could refuse to be chosen to be a lay judge, there is no guarantee that the person can take days off with pay when he or she has to take part in proceedings.

Ichida also criticized that without having full disclosure of prosecutor’s evidence and full disclosure of the interrogation process, the new citizen judge system will become “a new arena engendering many cases of false charges.”

Pointing out that even judges are calling for postponement of the introduction of the system, he said, “If the system is introduced without a national consensus and in disregard of public opinion, it will be a source of trouble in the future.”
- Akahata, August 8, 2008
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