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Jury trials for Japan

5 August, 2009

The ABC reports that for the first time since World War II Japan is having a jury trial. Tokyo District senior public prosecutor Tetsuo Maeda said of the occasion:

“I feel tense taking part in a trial that is making legal history. I hope I can provide evidence that will help the lay judges make an unambiguous decision.”

The defence lawyer was more practical:

“I’ll try to use words they’ll find easy to understand.”

The jury system was used in some criminal proceedings from 1928-1943 but the verdict did not bind the court. The court comprises of three Judges and six lay jurors or saiban-in (裁判員). Together they will determine the facts (the jury can question the defendant) and the guilt of the defendant and also the sentence.

Japan has an unbelievable 99 per cent conviction rate. A cynic might question police procedure but the cultural aspect of shame may also come in to play. The concept of shame has been utilised for a general theory of crime – I wonder if anyone knows what it is? Hint: Sandakan.

Update. The prosecution asked for 16 years, the lawyer representing the victim asked for 20 years and the jury handed down a  15 year sentence for the murder of the South Korean national.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. ribbet permalink
    9 August, 2009 3:46 pm

    it seems to be a good idea for jurors to deliberate along with the professional judges. The jury system here is fraught with misunderstandings of (1) their real role i.e. to say whether guilt has been proved beyond reasonable doubt and (2) prejudice. Some jurors who think differently to the majority are railroaded into a decision because of time constraints, insecurity or public pressure.

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