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A group of parents whose children were killed by juvenile criminals asked Justice Minister Kokichi Shimoinaba on Tuesday to have the Juvenile Law revised to strengthen victims’ rights.

The Group of Juvenile Crime Victims, consisting of 11 families from throughout Japan, including Osaka, Hiroshima, Okinawa and Nagano, met with Shimoinaba and handed him a document outlining their five demands. The group is requesting that facts about cases learned during both investigations and juvenile inquiry proceedings in family courts be disclosed to victims’ families. It also wants those families to be allowed to state their opinions during juvenile inquiries.

Under the Juvenile Law, inquiries are closed to the public, and the names and addresses of youth suspects are withheld. The group also urged that the law be reviewed so that prosecutors get to participate in the family court proceedings. It also would like cases in which youths have committed violent crimes to be handled differently from those in which the crimes committed were minor offenses, such as thefts.

In addition, the group demanded that parents of minors committing crimes be obligated to take responsibility for their children’s wrongdoings.

The group members told reporters after the meeting that parents who have lost their young to juvenile crimes are distressed because the current law only protects the rights of the offenders. “When we started this group last December, the first thing everyone said was, ‘We don’t know anything,'” said Masanobu Tominaga of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture. “It puzzled us why authorities wouldn’t inform us despite our need to know.”

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