• Naha City, Okinawa

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The
lay judge system has finally started amid high hopes and concerns. Personally, I have always felt uneasy about the possibility of sitting on such a jury and being obliged to give an (un)avoidable verdict. It is said the new system applies only to criminal cases. The government has justified starting the system by saying the dispensing of justice must be opened to the broader public. But if that’s the case, then the lay judge system must be extended to deal with civil litigation as well.

In general, litigation involving citizens seeking the suspension of arbitrary administrative dispositions is considered suitable for handling in civil court. Since the government’s policies toward U.S. military bases in Japan, particularly in Okinawa, often infringe upon citizens’ human and property rights, the new jury system should be extended to deal with litigation on these matters by all means.

yoshio shimoji

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