Juries in the Japanese Legal System: The Continuing Struggle for Citizen Participation and Democracy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Juries in the Japanese Legal System

The Continuing Struggle for Citizen Participation and Democracy, 1st Edition

By Dimitri Vanoverbeke


222 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Trial by jury is not a fundamental part of the Japanese legal system, but there has been a recent important move towards this with the introduction in 2009 of the lay assessor system whereby lay people sit with judges in criminal trials. This book considers the debates in Japan which surround this development. It examines the political and socio-legal contexts, contrasting the view that the participation of ordinary citizens in criminal trials is an important manifestation of democracy, with the view that Japan as a society where authority is highly venerated is not natural territory for a system where lay people are likely to express views at odds with expert judges. It discusses Japan’s earlier experiments with jury trials in the late 19th Century, the period 1923-43, and up to 1970 in US-controlled Okinawa, compares developing views in Japan on this issue with views in other countries, where dissatisfaction with the jury system is often evident, and concludes by assessing how the new system in Japan is working out and how it is likely to develop.

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Trial by jury and judicial reforms in Japan: setting the scene 1.Policy making and judicial reforms in contemporary Japan: The context of the trial by jury Part 2: Trial by jury in a historical context 2. Early experiences with the trial by jury: Japan’s struggle with modernization 3. Revolution failed? The Taishō jury system (1928-1943) 4. Japan’s postwar discourse and experiences with the trial by jury Part 3: Trial by jury in contemporary Japan 5. The dynamics of the mixed-jury system (saiban’in) in contemporary Japan: drafting, content and practice 6. The saiban’in juror in the criminal court: on becoming a good citizen? Conclusion

About the Author

Dimitri Vanoverbeke is Professor of Japanese Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

About the Series

Routledge Law in Asia

The series examines legal system development and rule of law in Asia, using Western legal systems as comparison points. Given the great diversity among legal systems, the purpose is to understand how rule of law is conceived and implemented, and the role of law and the legal system with respect to economic growth, political reform and democratization, the protection of human rights, geopolitical stability and the engagement of Asian countries with other countries in the international arena. The project also addresses the Euro-American centricism of comparative law by replacing outdated stereotypes with empirically grounded, in-depth and up-to-date analyses of Asian legal systems across a wide range of issues and areas of law.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies