• Jiji


The Cabinet adopted a bill Friday that would widen the scope of crimes for which 18- and 19-year-old suspects are put on criminal trial, but that still treats them differently from adults even after the age of adulthood is lowered next year.

The government hopes that the bill to revise the juvenile law will pass the Diet during the current session ending in June.

The government aims to implement the revised juvenile law when the nation lowers its age of adulthood from 20 to 18 on April 1, 2022.

In a policy recommendation report in October last year, the Legislative Council said that 18- and 19-year-olds are still in the process of growth and development and are not mature yet. Thus they should be treated separately from those age 20 or over and those under 18, said the council, which advises the justice minister.

The bill also stipulates that all criminal cases involving 18- and 19-year-olds continue to be sent to family courts for examinations of their backgrounds and upbringing.

The revision, however, would allow family courts to transfer cases involving 18- and 19-year-olds back to the prosecution for a wider range of crimes than permitted under the current law. At present, the scope is limited to crimes committed with intent that lead to a victim’s death. The bill adds crimes punishable by imprisonment of at least one year, including robbery, rape and arson.

Under the revised law, media organizations would be allowed to disclose the names of 18- and 19-year-old suspects of such crimes once they are indicted.

The bill also calls for the removal of the cohort from the scope of troubled juveniles referred to family courts who are considered likely to commit crimes given their personalities or environments.

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