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This fall, the Justice Ministry will begin notifying people victimized by crimes, in advance if necessary, of the prison release date of perpetrators and where they will live after their release, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama said Tuesday.

The ministry will revise the existing system to provide information on perpetrators to victims to protect them from possible retaliation by convicted criminals. Relatives and lawyers of victims as well as witnesses will also have access to the information, ministry officials said. Under the current system, which was introduced in March, people victimized by crimes are given information on the perpetrators’ whereabouts and release dates after they have finished their sentences.

Under the new system, to be introduced Oct. 1, victims would be informed about the approximate release date one to two months beforehand. The notification would occur only when authorities deem it necessary based on the type of crime and the perpetrators’ behavior in prison, the officials said.

Information on parolees can also be given to victims in advance, they said.

People victimized by crimes would generally have access to the information, except in cases where providing such details may hamper former inmates’ rehabilitation efforts or if the victims seem likely to attempt revenge, they said.

Specific addresses of former inmates will remain undisclosed, in principle, but victims would be informed if the perpetrator moved to their neighborhood, the officials said.

The ministry also said it will strengthen cooperation with police to protect crime victims from fresh attacks.

Police will determine which victims need special protection based on consultations and help them protect themselves by providing security devices and patrolling their neighborhoods.

To protect the victims, investigators will also receive information from prisons and regional parole boards on perpetrators’ scheduled release from prison and on their behavior behind bars, the officials said.

Legal experts have mixed views on the new system.

Isao Okamura, a lawyer who represents a group protecting the rights of crime victims, said the ministry’s plan reflects group members’ wishes.

But he said the Justice Ministry should go further, including providing relevant information on the release of minors from juvenile reformatories.

Yuichi Kaito, a lawyer working on the rights of the accused, admits it is natural for pertinent information to be provided when there is a real danger of fresh attacks.

But he warned that disclosing such information without clear criteria could inflame prejudice against ex-convicts and make their return to society even harder.

Yuji Shiratori, a professor at Hokkaido University and an expert on criminal prosecution law, said the Justice Ministry should not implement the system through its own instigation but rather seek legislative changes to be deliberated in the Diet.

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