Japan and Civil Jury Trials
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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.
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Chapter 8: Global proliferation of lay participation in justice systems

Matthew J Wilson, Hiroshi Fukurai and Takashi Maruta


Many countries around the globe have critically reviewed the merits of citizen involvement in government ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Seeking to obtain the benefits associated with a democratic form of government, eliminate corruption, and reduce deficiencies inherent in judicial systems, there has been a noticeable global movement to introduce contemporary versions of jury trials. In the last two decades, Asia has become the focus of this global trend. Debates and proposals have made headway in recent years in countries from Central and Eastern Europe to Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Japan’s decision to introduce its lay judge system took place within the context of this global trend. The country even revised its grand jury proceedings in 2009 to give the Kensatsu Shinsakai or Prosecution Review Commission (PRC) more power in reviewing and evaluating public prosecutors’ non-indictment decisions. In tracing the global trends toward lay adjudication over the past five centuries, there have been at least two movements favoring citizen involvement in the judicial process. First, some contend that the current wave of judicial reforms in Asia and other parts of the world resembles the wave of judicial reform triggered by the 1789 French Revolution. As a result of the French Revolution, political unrest and the movement toward democracy in Europe both strengthened the petit jury in England and helped the concept of trial by jury become an integral part of emerging democracies both on the European Continent and in the United States.

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