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The first criminal trial under the lay judge system ended in Tokyo District Court last week, and a second such trial wrapped up in Saitama District Court on Wednesday.

The first trial resulted in a 72-year-old Tokyo man being given 15 years in prison for stabbing to death a 66-year-old female neighbor; the prosecution had sought 16 years. The trial proceeded rather smoothly since the defendant had admitted his guilt. The main point of contention was the degree of his intent to murder. Even so, it is significant that the proceedings under the new system became much easier for the public to understand.

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