Two fathers whose sons were killed by other juveniles spoke at the Diet as witnesses Tuesday, calling for revisions to the Juvenile Law to deter youths from committing heinous crimes and to better protect the human rights of crime victims.

Shohei Kodama, 51, and Mamoru Hase, 44, expressed their opinions before the Lower House Committee on Judicial Affairs at a time when the ruling coalition is aiming to push through deliberations on a controversial bill to toughen the Juvenile Law. The opposition parties are boycotting all Diet proceedings.

In 1993, Kodama’s son Yuhei was killed by bullies at his junior high school in Yamagata Prefecture. His body was found wrapped in a mattress at the school gymnasium.

Hase’s son Jun was killed and beheaded by a 14-year-old boy in Kobe in 1997.

Calling the proposed legislation a “great step forward” to rectify what they claim is excessive protection of the human rights of juvenile offenders at the expense of their victims, the fathers said authorities should implement the legislation properly so as to “draw a line” to distinguish between atrocious juvenile crimes and minor offenses.

The ruling bloc’s legislation calls for the involvement of prosecutors in family court proceedings and for the criminally punishable age to be reduced from 16 to 14.

While the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and other opponents of the bill say the revision would undermine the spirit of the Juvenile Law, which is to rehabilitate juvenile criminals, Kodama said it would rather pave the way for fair family court trials and better reform of offenders.

Both witnesses also urged the government to step up efforts to provide crime victims with access to information to cases in which they or their relatives are involved, and to consider correcting what they called the overprotection of juvenile offenders by reviewing the law’s Article 61, which is designed to conceal the identity of juvenile offenders from the public.

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