Lawmakers from the ruling bloc submitted controversial legislation Friday to the Diet to revise the Juvenile Law, demanding harsher punishments in a bid to reduce juvenile delinquency in the wake of a series of major crimes committed by teenagers.
Incorporating elements of a bill submitted to the Diet earlier this year by the government that ended up dying on the floor of the house, the bill calls for the age at which a person can be held criminally liable to be reduced from the current 16 to 14.
The governing coalition — the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and New Conservative Party — is also emphasizing the need for reformatories to accommodate youths below the age of 16 who are sentenced to prison terms until they reach 16.
Offenders aged 16 or older who commit murder would generally be sent to public prosecutors, except when it is deemed appropriate for them to be placed under the supervision of a juvenile probation officer.
The legislation also calls for prosecutors to be involved in family court proceedings to verify the facts of cases in which juvenile offenders have committed manslaughter or other crimes that can be punished with more than two years’ imprisonment.
The legislation will also provide people who have been the target of crimes by juveniles with better access to information concerning the cases, including records of family court proceedings.
The opposition has objected to more severe punishments for juvenile offenders but has yet to come up with a counterproposal.
Opponents have also criticized the bill, saying any such revision would hurt the principle of the existing law, which is designed to respect the human rights of juveniles, and would prevent them from rejoining society once their sentences are completed.
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