Comment on the 10th Anniversary of Himawari Law Offices
Tomorrow will be 10 years since the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) began establishing Himawari law offices (bar funded law offices) in areas which are suffering from a shortage of attorneys.
The JFBA established the “Himawari Fund” on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 1999. The Fund was established to secure financial resources to take effective measures to resolve depopulation and uneven distribution of attorneys through establishing and maintaining Himawari law offices and legal counseling centers in areas with a shortage of attorneys. The Fund also supports attorneys who settle in such areas. Since January 2000, the JFBA has been collecting special dues from its all members to tackle this issue.
Our efforts have successfully eliminated all “zero-attorney areas” though there were 47 no-attorney areas in 1996. The number of “one-attorney areas” was also reduced to 5. The first Himawari law office was established in Hamada city, Shimane Prefecture, on June 12, 2000 and this April a Himawari law office was established in Amami city, Kagoshima Prefecture, the second office in the city, bringing the total number of Himawari law offices to 100 across Japan.
These results were achieved by our efforts together with our member attorneys, local bar associations, and regional federations of local bar associations to resolve the shortage of attorneys in certain areas.
However, in order to assist the areas which have less access to justice, only eliminating the “zero/one attorney areas” is not sufficient. It is also strongly requested that the improvement of the judicial foundation be promoted based on the “substantial guarantee of the right of the people to trial” for which the state has responsibility. This includes resolution of the branches which have no full-time judge and public prosecutor by increasing the number of judges and public prosecutors, enhancing the capacity of branches of courts and public prosecutors offices, and increasing the budget for legal aid.
The JFBA urges the Japanese government to promote the improvement of the judicial foundation as a national responsibility. The JFBA also expresses its commitment to continuously make every effort to resolve the areas of depopulated attorneys in order to facilitate access to justice by citizens and spread the rule of law throughout the country by cooperating with the state and other concerned organizations such as the Japan Legal Support Center.
June 11, 2010
Japan Federation of Bar Associations