Motoji Kobayashi, President of the JFBA
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
My name is Motoji Kobayashi, and I have recently been elected as the new President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) at the election held on February 4, 2022. It is my great pleasure and honor to serve you in this capacity during my two-year tenure starting on April 1, 2022. I look forward to being enlightened by your insights and advice.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24 shook the whole world. Many civilians have been killed or wounded. The JFBA condemns in the strongest terms Russia for a breach of the UN Charter and its invasion of a sovereign state with military force, and calls for Russian troops’ withdrawal as soon as possible as well as a peaceful settlement.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis in Japan today, numerous legal problems are emerging. The JFBA is committed to addressing these legal needs appropriately and looking to be an organization that can contribute to the civil society.
We also see an increasing number of situations where the involvement of attorneys is required for legal risk management, including ones such as: preventing workplace harassment by giving counsel on ways of working in an organization such as national and local governments and corporations; preventing medical malpractice; preventing bullying and suicide, etc. in the field of education; participating in third-party committees formed after accidents; coping with cases as a posted attorney at child guidance centers; and dealing with domestic violence occurring in families. Additionally, with the extreme population ageing in Japan, attorneys’ greater engagement in adult guardianships is anticipated.
Governance and compliance nowadays need to embrace the viewpoint that environmental protection and the business-and-human-rights considerations as ESG and SDGs are the global standards.
In the meantime, as we aspire to bring about accessible and competent justice for the sake of citizens, reforming and improving civil justice is a necessity. Simultaneously, the foundation of attorneys' legal services must be defended while protecting the interest of the users of legal services by enforcing the boundary between the authorized practice of law by attorneys and other legal practitioners as well as addressing firmly the issues of unqualified legal services and collusion between attorneys and unqualified legal service providers.
Another agenda of great importance is to work out concrete programs to support young attorneys, who are the future of bar associations and the profession. The JFBA will seek redress from the Government to provide financial aid to the specific generation of attorneys who could not receive the training benefit from the Government during their legal apprenticeship period.
The Japan Legal Support Center, commonly known as Ho-terasu, is an important access point to legal services for citizens, hence it must be a sustainable apparatus implementing the system to protect civil rights and human rights. Therefore, the JFBA will review the user fee schedule to reduce users’ economic hardship, and will also explore a mechanism to improve attorney fees, which has been pointed out to be too small to match the workload.
While advancing gender equality further, the JFBA will promote so-called D&I (diversity and inclusion) so that diverse individuals such as persons with disabilities and people identified as LGBTQ will live in harmony in society. Accepting, respecting, and leveraging various values will bring innovation to and change the lawyer industry as well.
The JFBA will also increase support for small bar associations to enable the JFBA’s organizational integration and increase its structural strength. Managing a local bar association requires an ingenious approach matching the circumstances unique to each geographical region. The JFBA will incorporate the digitalization and systematization of the JFBA and bar associations into the whole digital transformation (DX) strategy.
Criminal justice reform to prevent miscarriages of justice—including facilitating an attorney’s presence in police interrogations, audio/video recording of the whole process of every police interview, and efforts to amend the statutes regarding retrial—is the attorneys’ mission and the JFBA will tackle these issues to the best of our abilities. Additionally, disaster preparedness and response optimizing the past experiences and expertise garnered through earthquakes, storms and floods, and the COVID-19 crisis, needs to be enhanced.
As the largest non-governmental human rights organization in Japan, the JFBA believes that it is its critical role to publish its opinions on various issues related to fundamental human rights, on the basis of the philosophy of the Constitution of Japan. We will strive to promote nationally and internationally the common values of freedom, democracy, respect for fundamental human rights, and the rule of law.
During the JFBA presidential election campaign, I presented the idea of “participation and dialogue” and “unity and action.” Working with the Vice Presidents, the Governors, the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary Generals as well as the staff, I will focus all my efforts on addressing the critical issues the JFBA is confronting, in which your support and cooperation would be highly appreciated.
April 1, 2022
President, Japan Federation of Bar Associations