Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Japanese wary of new jury system

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, many Japanese are nervous about the new jury system, saibanin, being implemented in Japan.

Some are worried about giving regular citizens equal say with experienced judges. Many just don't want to participate. But unless you are over 70, a student, or caring for someone who his ill, you will probably have to serve.

The system is similar to those in Germany and France. Six jurors will join three judges on each panel. They will deliberate in the same room with the judges and their vote will carry the same weight as the judges. What surprises me is that they will also be able to cross-examine witnesses.

I wonder how the judges feel about now having to share their position with regular citizens who will have the same vote as the judges? What gives the non-judge jurors even more influence is that the verdicts will be based not on a unanimous vote but solely on a majority vote to determine sentences.

Since the majority of citizens do not want to participate and in order to help educate the public, the courts have been running hundreds of mock trials and other public events.

In spite of the publics trepidation in serving on juries, interest has been high according to the article. T.V. networks have been airing dramas that involve such trials.

They apparently have also been running Hollywood movies such as "A Few Good Men," "Runaway Jury" and "A Time to Kill."


  1. It will be interesting to hear how this works out. I;m sure the Japanese will work it out with not problem... I wonder how it will affect the Japanese justice system overall. I think police tactics, especially in regards to interrogations with change significantly.

    Another well done post!


  2. I just saw A Few Good Men on TV a few nights ago.

    I think that the jury system is the best way to judge people, but I can't get over my stereotype of Japanese being easily influenced.

  3. 真秀 : That is an interesting idea about the possibility of a change in interrogations and other police behavior. We'll see if there are any changes.

    sixmats: Yes, it will be interesting to see how the judges interact (influence?) the jurors.