New Year's Message
Please accept my best wishes for the New Year.
At the end of 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party (“LDP”) took power, replacing the Democratic Party of Japan (“DPJ”), and the coalition government of the LDP and New Komeito was launched under the leadership of the LDP President, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Since economic recovery and an increase in employment have been what most Japanese have long been waiting for, I am hoping that the new Cabinet will pursue its strong focus on reviving the country's economy through appropriate economic measures so as to put the nation’s public finances on a more secure footing.
In addition, the new government should boldly tackle various issues related to reconstruction and recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake aiming to rebuild the nation with a view towards the future. In doing so, it is important to ensure the financial resources necessary for such recovery in various ways, possibly using such opportunity to rev up the economy.
In order to make 2013 a fruitful year, the JFBA will make every endeavour to deal with a wide range of issues, while also tackling the issue of establishing a suitable safety net. The issues which the JFBA will put their best efforts toward achieving this year include the following:
1. Continuous provision of legal support to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Among the numerous activities the JFBA have been performing and are planning to implement, the most important issue will be the continuous provision of legal support for the victims of, and activities towards the recovery from, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant accident, the importance of which we should never forget.
In order to ensure that the state provides relief for disaster victims, the JFBA has been striving for the legislation of a law concerning support for victims of the disaster. Our efforts have proven fruitful, leading to the enactment of the “Act on the Protection and Support for Children and other Victims of the TEPCO Disaster” in June 2012. Along with the enactment of the Act, detailed measures and policies, and implementation methods for the Act should be discussed from this point forward.
Furthermore, in order to bring about fully functional new systems for Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) for damage compensation relating to the nuclear power plant accident, and for solving the so-called “double loan” problems in relation to the disaster, the JFBA should further exercise its collective strength in providing support by dispatching attorneys to take on such issues.
I would like to emphasize that all attorneys, bar associations and the JFBA should continue to do their best to provide the support required for the recovery, always with an eye towards the future, through the process of helping to rebuild and transform Japan into a new country.
2. Reform of the system for nurturing legal professionals
Immediately from the start of 2013, the JFBA should collect and pour its strength into dealing with the matters to be discussed at the meeting regarding “the system for nurturing legal professionals” where the following significant and difficult issues will be discussed and concrete measures for realizing them will be determined: i) the abolition or merger of law schools with due consideration being given to an appropriate regional allocation of law schools, ii) the promotion of a drastic reduction in the total maximum number of law school students, and iii) the realization of financial support measures for those seeking to become legal professionals.
3. Necessity of realizing the transparency of interrogations
The necessity of realizing both the recording of the entire process of interrogations and a full-scale evidence disclosure system has become widely recognized among the public because of the cases which have reached the media especially in the latter half of 2012, such as, the case of the not-guilty ruling for Mr. Mainali at his retrial for the 1997 Tokyo murder case of a female TEPCO employee, and a case involving cybercrime in which four people were wrongfully arrested on suspicion of sending threatening messages from their computers, which had actually been remotely manipulated by a hacker.
It will not be easy to realize the introduction of such systems for various reasons, one of which being the fact that there has been a debate regarding the introduction of new investigation methods on the prosecutor’s side in exchange for the adoption of the audio/video recording of the entire process of the interrogations. However, the JFBA will bring all of our combined force and bring all of our efforts to bear as we try to achieve the recording of the entire process of interrogations, the disclosure system of evidence offered by prosecutors, as well as a full-scale public attendant system.
4. Civil justice reform and administrative litigation system reform
The JFBA should conduct an in-depth discussion in relation to both these issues and take further step forward.
5. Expansion of the areas of lawyers’ legal practices and support for young legal professionals
In order to make it possible for candidate students and young legal professionals to pursue their dreams to become legal professionals, the JFBA will continue to expand the areas of lawyers’ legal practices so that compliance and internal control systems at business enterprises and administrative authorities can be improved with the help of in-house lawyers.
Last but not least, the JFBA will also give a high priority to the following areas: i) support for young legal professionals; ii) enhancement of legal training; iii) information sharing with the renewed TV Conference system; and iv) further PR activities directed towards the public with the introduction of a uniform nationwide telephone advice service (scheduled to launch on March 1, 2013) for Legal Counseling Centers throughout Japan.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a successful and prosperous year ahead, and this year again, I would like to ask for the continued support and cooperation in our activities.
By Kenji Yamagishi, the JFBA President