Democratising Criminal Justice Systems: Sexual Violence Cases in the Citizen Judge Trials in Japan

in The Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
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Abstract

A part of the Japan’s Penal Code pertaining to sexual violence crimes was amended and came into force on 13th July 2017. The number of reported sexual violence crimes in Japan seems to be lower than some western countries. However, myths in terms of sexual violence and the lack of transparency in the Japanese criminal justice has caused sexual violence victims to not report their victimisation to the police. This article examines the impacts of introducing of a citizen judge system in Japan in 2009 on serious sexual violence cases. An emphasis on democratic values that are the main theoretical grounds of a lay adjudication in a criminal justice procedure raises challenges and difficulties for the victims. However, a fair trial for defendants and victims alike can be achieved by a perceived balance between the principal interrelated concepts of democracy.

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