15:00-16:30 Thursday, February 27, 2014
"Japan's justice system: guilty?"
Former presiding judge of the Tokyo District Court
& Author of "The Court of Despair"
東京地方裁判所 元裁判長 瀬木比呂志
Japan's legal system was set up after the Pacific War to prevent the simultaneous fragmentation of lawful authority and concentration of unofficial power which characterized the rise of militarism in the 1930s. During that dark time, democratic institutions were held in check constitutionally by the army and navy, while informal power was wielded by extreme cliques led by influential figures.
Yet the reformed system in Japan has frequently been unsatisfactory. Japan's Supreme Court, especially, has been accused of lacking independence.
This is the focus of our speaker, Hiroshi Segi, a former judge and student of US law. He claims that the Supreme Court has lost its independence, and therefore fails in its role to act as a check on unconstitutional acts by the executive branch. In effect, he accuses the justice system of being a passive extension of the bureaucratic apparatus which actually runs Japan.
In addition, he claims that Japanese judges are too tightly controlled by the Supreme Court's general secretariat. Career advancement can be stymied if judges exercise their independent judgement, rather than 'going with the flow' imposed by the higher echelons of the court. He believes that this leads to numerous poor outcomes for Japan's litigants.