Opinion for Improving the Saiban-in (Lay Judge) System so that the Saiban-in Can Participate More Proactively and Substantively
June 17, 2022
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
The Japan Federation of Bar Association compiled the “Opinion for Improving the Saiban-in (Lay Judge) System so that the Saiban-in can Participate More Proactively and Substantively” dated June 17, 2022, and submitted it on June 20, 2022 to the Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President of the House of Councilors.
Summary of Opinion
In order to improve the Saiban-in system so that the Saiban-in can participate more proactively and substantively, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Act on Criminal Trials with the Participation of Saiban-in, and the Rules for Criminal Trials with the Participation of Saiban-in should be amended to include the following:
- ) A judge who presides over pretrial conference procedure shall not be a member of the court in charge of the case;
- ) The presiding judge shall be required to explain to the Saiban-in that judges and the Saiban-in stand on an equal footing in “fact finding,” “the application of laws and regulations,” and “sentencing;”
- ) The presiding judge shall be required to have a judge explain in open court “decisions on interpretation of laws and regulations,” “decisions on court proceedings,” and “decisions other than those made with the participation of the Saiban-in;” and
- ) Any decision unfavorable for the accused in verdicts shall be based on the agreement of the majority of the member judges and the majority of the Saiban-in, respectively.