Philip Brasor’s Feb. 8 Media Mix article, “New law may backfire on victims“: Sometimes it seems that many people have forgotten that a trial has a two parts: First, the defendant is found innocent or guilty; then, if guilty, punishment is imposed. This is supposed to be true in Japan, just as in most other countries that follow Western-style jurisprudence.
However, it appears that the new law is being implemented in a way that confuses the two phases — by letting victims or family members contribute during the first phase. Unless victims or family members were a witness to a crime, they shouldn’t have a formal role during the first phase. Only after someone is found guilty of the crime would it be appropriate to bring in a victim to point out the impact on his or her family.
And even then, as Brasor points out, bringing victims into a trial may not have the intended impact. However, if they are to be part of a trial, victims or their families should participate only after the accused has been confirmed as the guilty party.
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