JAPAN: POPULAR JURIES RETURN TO TRIALS AFTER 66 YEARS
May 21, 2009: Japan reintroduced popular juries in penal trials after a break of 66 years. This aligned Japan with the other G8 countries and created an opportunity for debate on capital punishment.
The reform will be introduced starting today, and will take until July, according to the provisions of the Justice Minister. Popular juries faced resistance and constitutional doubt from jurists and society at large.
It will be up to the six popular jurists, as well as three judges, to decide guilt or innocence in cases of murder. They will also decide the punishment, which includes the possibility of capital punishment by hanging.
According to a pollÂ by the Yomiuri newspaper, despite more than 80% of the population favouring the death penalty, 79% said they did not want to take part in popular juries âso as not to have to decide on giving the death penalty.â
'I think that many people are worried about serving as jurors. However, it is necessary to bring the common sense that members of the public develop in everyday life into the trials,' Justice Minister Eisuke Mori said.
The minister expects a public debate on the death penalty as a result of the reform. (Sources: ANSA, 21/05/2009)