National / Crime & Legal

Japan ruling bloc agrees not to lower juvenile law age

Jiji

A team of ruling coalition lawmakers agreed Thursday not to lower the age of people covered by the juvenile law to under 18 from under 20 at present.

The team of lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito has been discussing whether criminal offenders aged 18 and 19 should be covered by the juvenile law, as the age of adulthood in Japan will be lowered to 18 from 20 in April 2022 under the revised Civil Code.

The project team agreed to maintain the country’s system to send all criminal offenders aged under 20 to family courts in principle, while expanding the scope of criminal offenders to be sent to public prosecutors.

Under the current juvenile law, only those who intentionally committed crimes causing death, such as murders and injuries resulting in death, are sent to prosecutors.

The team agreed to make people aged 18 and 19 who committed offenses leading to imprisonment of one year or more, such as robberies and rape, be sent to prosecutors.

The ruling coalition team also agreed to allow the names of people aged 18 and 19 to be disclosed if they are indicted. At present, the disclosure of the names of people under 20 who have committed crimes is banned.

The Legislative Council, which advises the justice minister, has been discussing juvenile law revisions for over three years. It is expected to issue a report on the matter as early as September.

The council’s view on the revisions roughly matches that of the ruling coalition team.

Kazuo Kitagawa, a senior Komeito official who is acting head of the project team, said that a revised juvenile law and the revised Civil Code should go into force at the same time.

“Juvenile law revisions need to be enacted during next year’s regular parliamentary session at the latest to make that happen,” Kitagawa told reporters.

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