One in 116 people will have the opportunity to serve as lay judges in criminal trials if a proposed lay judge system is introduced in Japan, according to data released Thursday by a government panel.

The estimate was unveiled by the Judicial Reform Council. The government plans to submit judicial reform measures to the Diet next year.

The system would be similar to those deployed in Germany and France, where professional judges and lay judges selected from electoral rolls try cases together, issuing joint rulings.

The council made its calculations on the basis of various assumptions, with the government yet to decide on the kind of trials to which lay judges would be assigned or the number of lay judges that would take part in a given trial.

The proportion of one in 116 people was worked out on the basis of a proposal submitted by a number of Liberal Democratic Party members. They suggested that lay judges should be assigned only to trials involving serious crimes that carry the threat of the death penalty or life terms.

They also said that six lay judges should be assigned to a trial, in addition to the current three professional judges.

The council calculated how many people out of the 84.5 million registered voters aged between 20 and 69 as of October 2001 could be selected as lay judges, assuming the opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime affair.

Should three lay judges be assigned to each of the relatively important 4,591 cases in 2001 in which three professional judges served, the figure would be one in 93.

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