Welcome to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations ("JFBA").
In the JFBA presidential election held on February 9, 2018, I was fortunate enough to receive 13,014 votes, the largest ever in JFBA history, including many votes from across all of the 52 local bar associations around Japan. I am truly grateful for the strong support shown by receiving as much as 80% of all votes cast.
To date, the JFBA has worked extensively on the wide-ranging issues faced by our society as well as on the issues related to attorneys in the JFBA’s role as an organization committed to its mission to protect human rights and achieve social justice. We have particularly focused our efforts on carrying out activities to provide relief for the socially vulnerable and to improve the judicial system so as to make it truly reliable and accessible for citizens. We will continue to dedicate our further strengthened efforts to resolve these issues by building upon and learning from the efforts made by our predecessors.
Discussions on amendments to the constitution have recently commenced in the Diet, and various opinions on this issue are the subject of much debate among the members of the JFBA. In order to uphold the bedrock principles of constitutionalism and pacifism, the JFBA has issued a large number of declarations and resolutions concerning this matter. Through the accumulation of all such declarations and resolutions, as well as the deliberations at the Board of Governors within the JFBA and the opinions of each constituent bar association, we will keep on clearly and thoroughly disseminating the opinions of the JFBA to the public in a timely manner.
The death penalty is a legal issue as well as a human rights issue, and discussions are being held as to whether it is ever justifiable for a state to deprive a person of his or her life, in the light of the purpose of criminal punishment. We will continue to work steadily to realize the abolishment of the death penalty and the reform of the penal system, while supporting victims of crime and their bereaved families, in line with the “Declaration Calling for Reform of the Penal System Including Abolishing the Death Penalty” adopted at the 59th Convention on the Protection of Human Rights held in Fukui City in 2016.
Expanding the basis of attorneys’ practice areas is an important and pressing issue within all bar associations. We will diligently tackle this issue with the aim of raising the quality and volume of attorneys’ services as a whole by implementing various measures including holding strategy sessions across related committees. In addition, we are committed to promoting civil justice reform and encouraging the involvement of attorneys in civil and administrative cases, including procedures related to administrative dispositions. I am confident that these efforts will improve public access to the justice system and lead to appropriate remedies which held to realize the strengthening of citizens’ rights.
The autonomy of attorneys under the compulsory membership system was also discussed during the current presidential campaign. I appealed to the JFBA members for the need to share the value of autonomy and to make persistent efforts to maintain the same. The autonomy of attorneys is supported by the public trust and finds in basis in the law. We will spare no effort to prevent the misconduct of attorneys in order to maintain and strengthen public trust and support.
To date, the JFBA has worked on various issues related to reform of the judicial system, and the systems launched as a result of and in response to the reform of the judicial system are now taking root throughout society as a whole. In addition, as to the legal training system, grant-type financial support for legal apprentices has been introduced. On the other hand, there remains the issue of those who were not entitled to salaries from the national treasury during the term of their legal training, which I would like to address so that their activities as legal professionals will by no means be hindered solely because of a financial burden. The future of the JFBA depends on young attorneys and legal professional candidates. I am determined to enhance and expand the basis of attorneys’ practice and to ensure a broad dissemination of the positive message regarding the challenging and rewarding nature of the attorney’s profession in order for the future of the JFBA and its member bar associations to become even more promising and dynamic.
Many challenges are out there to be addressed, and it is crucial that we are strongly united as an organization to sufficiently fulfill our mission entrusted by the public. To this end, your support and cooperation over the course of the next two years would be highly appreciated.
By Yutaro KIKUCHI, President of the JFBA