Statement on Enactment of the Revised Juvenile Law
The House of Councillors enacted a bill to amend the Juvenile Law today.
The government explained that the reason for submitting the bill was that younger juveniles committed more crimes and juvenile cases were becoming more heinous. However, such facts had not been sufficiently verified. For over two years, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) strongly urged to resolve serious problems contained in the bill such as introduction and reinforcement of police's authority to examine juveniles and abolishment of the minimum age limit for sending juvenile prisons.
Reflecting opinions from many people and the JFBA, the bill was considerably modified to delete a provision which authorized police to investigate juveniles who have not yet committed crimes but are likely to commit crimes in view of their characters or surroundings, and to stipulate that any juvenile under fourteen years old who has violated a criminal law or ordinance has a right to appoint an attorney when examination is conducted by police and police should not force juveniles to answer questions taking account of their sensitivities. In addition, an appointment of an attorney by court for a juvenile remains in force until a trial completes even if the juvenile is released before the completion of the trial. The JFBA appreciates that these drastic amendments were made during this session of the Diet.
However, the enacted revision does not stipulate attendance of attorneys at or video recording of examining of juveniles by police and the risk that juveniles could be forced to make false confessions resulting in wrongful convictions still remains high.
Furthermore, eleven-year juveniles who have committed serious crimes could be sent to juvenile prisons. However, such juveniles have grown up in a harsh condition such as being abused in many cases, and they should be entrusted to welfare treatment such as that by the Support Facility for Development of Self-sustaining Capacity.
The JFBA further strives to establish a legal system ensuring the best interest of juveniles by requesting enhancement of cases to be provided court-appointed attorneys, monitoring operation of this revised law and urging further amendments to the law in light of philosophies of the Juvenile Law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child through activities as court-appointed attorneys.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
May 25, 2007