The revised Juvenile Law has taken effect, providing for harsher treatment of juvenile offenders. Under the revision, the youngest age at which one can be sent to a juvenile reformatory has been lowered to “around 12” from 14. While juvenile offenders under 14 cannot be held criminally responsible, the revision does allow a family court to send a juvenile offender under 14 to a reformatory. According to the Justice Ministry’s interpretation, an 11-year-old fifth grader could be sent to a reformatory.

The purpose of a reformatory is not to punish, but to help juvenile offenders adjust themselves to social life through education and training. Even when a corrective step is necessary, authorities must consider whether children “around 12” are physically and psychologically mature enough to undergo the kind of corrective education that a reformatory dishes out.

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