The Convergence of Forces
Chapter 1: Welcoming citizen participation into Japan’s justice system
To best understand the need for citizen participation in Japan’s civil dispute resolution system, it is useful to first look at the historical background surrounding citizen participation in the judicial branch of government, and then explore recent developments impacting the country’s legal system. As an established world leader, Japan has long enjoyed acclaim and prominence for its advancement, societal stability and overall quality of life. Japan’s recovery from the devastation sustained during the Second World War is a remarkable tale. This East Asian country rose from the ashes of ward such that it now excels in per capita income, technological advancement, convenience, safety, literacy and life expectancy among other things. Today, Japan also stands as the most democratic country in Asia. Its government and public officials have traditionally benefitted from a high level of trust. Judges and bureaucrats involved in the judicial process have typically commanded the respect of the masses. As a result of its remarkable achievements, advanced and emerging countries alike have often studied, and even attempted to emulate, certain aspects of Japan’s successful economic and societal model. Despite its substantial accomplishments, Japan’s momentum significantly weakened before the turn of the century due to an extended period of economic uncertainty, mounting national debt and political stagnation. In the late 1980s, Japan entered into an infamous ‘bubble economy’ caused by rampant speculation, soaring stock prices and unsustainable real estate values.