Japan and Civil Jury Trials

Japan and Civil Jury Trials

The Convergence of Forces

Matthew J Wilson, Hiroshi Fukurai and Takashi Maruta

As societies around the world increasingly face complex challenges, effective solutions are at a premium. In response, reformers have advanced varied forms of jury systems as means of fostering positive political, economic, and social change. Many countries have recently integrated lay participation into their justice systems to effect fundamental societal change, advance public policymaking, and manifest popular sovereignty. This book showcases Japan’s successes and challenges in recently adopting a quasi-jury system for serious criminal trials, and advocates that the convergence of various forces makes this an ideal time for Japan to expand lay participation into the civil realm.

Chapter 11: Final thoughts and necessary preparations

Matthew J Wilson, Hiroshi Fukurai and Takashi Maruta

Subjects: law - academic, asian law, constitutional and administrative law, criminal law and justice, politics and public policy, asian politics


Japan’s decision to introduce the new system of lay adjudication in 2004 and its implementation in 2009 took place within a global trend of judicial reform that was sweeping many countries. Historical analysis demonstrates that lay adjudicatory systems have emerged repeatedly across the world as symbols of democratic ideals in times of significant social change and political transformation. Like in the case of Japan, judicial reform and citizen involvement in government have also been viewed as a means of spurring private sector economic activity by reducing governmental influence and power. The current wave of judicial reform and public participation emerged after the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since that time, many former Soviet republics and neighboring countries, including Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan revamped their legal systems and progressively moved to introduce lay adjudication or enhance citizen involvement in government. The socio-political transformation caused by the removal of authoritarian regimes in some countries and the liberation from governmental domination in others also led to the adoption of lay adjudication systems in South America, Africa and the southeastern regions of Europe. The history of lay adjudication systems indicates that the enthusiasm for democratic rule can wane over time due to efforts of the political elite to seize greater power, high logistical costs, misconceptions, or simple complacency.

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