Seventy percent of respondents to a government questionnaire on the new jury system to be introduced for criminal trials by 2009 said they do not want to become “citizen judges,” as participants will be called, the Cabinet Office said Saturday.
Although public awareness of the new judicial system has been heightened, with 71.5 percent of the respondents saying they know about it, people appear reluctant to join in as only 25.6 percent said they want to take part.
The most popular reasons chosen by those who do not want to participate were that it is difficult to determine whether a defendant is guilty, at 46.5 percent, and that they do not want to judge another person, at 46.4 percent.
Those who said they do not want to participate represented 75.4 percent of female respondents and 64.2 percent of male respondents, according to the survey results.
Among those who expressed willingness to take part in the new system, 48.5 percent said they want to cooperate as citizens and 32.1 percent said they are interested in the prevention of crimes and public security issues.
Under the new system, jurors chosen at random from lists of eligible voters will have equal authority with professional judges in deciding verdicts and punishments in cases involving serious crimes such as murder.
An official at the Justice Ministry’s Criminal Affairs Bureau said, “We take (the survey results) seriously. We will make further publicity efforts so people understand the significance of taking part in trials.”
In a question on how they think public awareness about the judicial system might change with the introduction of the new system, 39.3 percent of the respondents said they are afraid it may result in inappropriate rulings. Respondents were given multiple choices.
The next most popular choice, at 31.2 percent, was that they believe citizens will become more conscious of crime and public security issues as their own problems, followed at 27.6 percent by the idea that public understanding and confidence in the judicial system will be deepened.
The survey was conducted in February among 3,000 people aged 20 or older, and the response rate was 69.2 percent, the Cabinet Office said. It was the first opinion poll taken by the government on the jury system.
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