Family Courts' Continued Roles Proposed in Juvenile Age Debate

Society Politics

Tokyo, Dec. 9 (Jiji Press)--The secretariat of a Legislative Council subcommittee proposed Monday to allow family courts to continue playing roles in criminal cases involving 18- and 19-year-olds even if they become no longer minors subject to protection under the juvenile law.

Members of the subcommittee have been divided over the issue of whether the maximum age of minors eligible for the legal protection should be lowered from 19 to 17, in step with the lowering of the age of adulthood under the Civil Code. Some members strongly oppose the age lowering on the grounds that the move will deprive young offenders of opportunities to remaking their lives.

At the day's meeting, the secretariat offered the idea of allowing public prosecutors to indict only 18- and 19-year-old people suspected of committing serious crimes such as ones subject to lay-judge trials without sending them to family courts. It also proposed, as a separate option, that all crime suspects of those ages be sent to family courts first, while calling for study on the possibility of expanding the scope of cases to be sent back from family courts to prosecutors.

In both cases, family courts can play their roles in supporting rehabilitation of young offenders as the courts are doing under the current law, people familiar with the matter said.

At present, juveniles aged 14 to 19 who are believed to have committed crimes are sent from prosecutors to family courts, which judge how to deal with them, such as putting them on probation or sending them to reform schools, after their family backgrounds and other matters are examined.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press