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KYOTO — The first trials under the new lay judge system are expected to take place sometime after May 21 and speculation in mounting over how ordinary people will handle this new obligation.

Although the “saibanin” system is unique in form and scope, it actually marks the third time Japanese citizens have played roles in court trial decisions, first via a fledgling jury system attempted between 1928 and 1943, and then, in a lesser-known instance, in Okinawa under American occupation after the war.

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