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An advisory panel to the justice minister decided Friday to propose legal revisions that would allow juvenile offenders younger than 14 to be sent to reformatories.

In its draft proposal, the Legislative Council’s juvenile law committee also recommends police be allowed to conduct house searches and other types of investigations into cases of juvenile crime, Justice Ministry officials said.

The measures are apparently aimed at fighting heinous crimes committed by young juveniles.

Critics say the recommendations are a de facto stiffening of penalties and will not be effective in curbing youth crime.

The recommendations also include the introduction of a system to assign counsel at state expense to children detained in juvenile facilities while they wait for a family court to decide how they will be dealt with.

The recommendations will be submitted to Justice Minister Chieko Noono at the council’s general meeting in February.

The ministry plans to submit relevant bills to revise such laws as the Juvenile Law to the current Diet session, which began Friday.

At present, juvenile reformatories only admit juveniles aged 14 and older.

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