The Supreme Court under the incoming new chief justice, Itsuro Terada, is urged to stand firm as the "court of last resort" empowered to determine the constitutionality of laws, as concerns grow that the top court's decisions are belittled by lawmakers and criticism lingers that it tends to defer to political influences.

Terada, 66, will replace Hironobu Takesaki on April 1 in the first shakeup in the top court leadership in five years. The first postwar generation to take the helm of the Supreme Court, Terada has mainly handled civil cases as judge in local courts and as top court justice since 2010. He spent a large part of his career at the Justice Ministry, where he was involved in judicial system reforms including the 2009 introduction of the lay judge system.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the Emperor after being nominated by the Cabinet. In practice, however, the Cabinet has essentially followed the recommendation of the outgoing chief justice in the selection of the new chief.