Japan Today

Justice ministry studies removing restrictions on sentencing minors


The Ministry of Justice has announced that it is considering a reform bill that will change the ways minors can be punished in Japan.

The move comes as the result of a series of high profile crimes committed by minors.

Justice Minister Makoto Taki told media that there has long been a feeling that the cap on punishments for adults and children alike is too low, Fuji TV reported.

At present, the maximum prison sentence for a minor is 15 years, a ministry official said. A crime that would result in a life sentence for an adult does not result in the same sentence for a child under the age of 18, nor can minors be given the death penalty.

These are some of the restrictions the Diet will consider removing or changing, the ministry spokesman said.

The issue is to be discussed with the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice this year, with the aim of presenting a reform proposal at a session of the Diet next year, the ministry said.

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A step in the right direction.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

This is probably the best news I've read in weeks. How come just now? After years and years of horrible crimes committed by youngsters and they never really see the bars. They only go to a prison mock-off with Disney posters and pink walls AND after a few years they go back home to kill their parents or something close down the lines. Now... if these amendments pass and go to law, these youngsters might be properly sentenced and possibly hung. Great news!!!!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Changing the way minors can be punished in Japan is just a cop-out by the Ministry of Justice.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Sadly, the crisis and dysfunction that creates delinquency of minors has often subjected the child to further victimization and abuse in the adult criminal justice system. Many young children in Japan are imperiled by abuse, neglect, and domestic violence. Without effective intervention and help the child suffers, struggles, and falls into despair and hopelessness. Some young teen can't manage the emotional, social, and psychological challenges of adolescence and eventually engage in destructive and violent behavior. This issue is whether letting a juvenile spend the rest of his life or her life in prison is constitutional. Furthermore, the issue is whether prisons are meant to rehabilitate the criminal or keep them away from society. Either way this is a complex and sensitive matter and is debatable.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

CrazyJoe Aug. 27, 2012 - 08:03AM JST

Exactly. And a cop out by society. The family has been destroyed in Japan, replaced by government. Apparently, the government has failed in its job of raising the children. The children are victims of the situation and now the government, which created this situation along with its predictable outcomes, wants to further punish the children. Reestablish the importance of the nuclear family in Japan and this problem - along with many others - goes away.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Long, long overdue.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How typical! What really needed to be done was to lower the age of majority from 20 to 18 or even 16.

Now they give minors all of the responsibility with none of the rights! Plus they do not differentiate between different aged minors, such as children and teens?

These people in the Justice Ministry are dumb as rocks. They don't know anything about justice and don't even have a coherent philosophy.

They will hang you for a crime but won't let you have a beer or drive a car or vote or have a job? Get outta town you dopes! Either they are too young for responsibility or they aren't! Make up your minds! But here they leave them at the mercy of their parents, who might be derelict and abusive, but then turn around and treat them as adults if they step out of line?

Better not to change anything with these idiots at the helm!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How is this good? they should fix what causes this, this is just symptom fixing

6 ( +7 / -1 )

About time too. A deterrent is way overdo...

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Harsher punishments? No. Not for adults, not for children.

Why? It's simply too late for the victims, uses up more taxpayer's money, overloads the prison systems (turning them into skills workshops for the criminally inclined), and generally isn't a deterrant.

Why not just find the causes and solve those rather? Studies of the vast majority of criminals find that they tend to come broken homes with lower incomes. Very few criminals are born criminals, most are made criminals by circumstances.

Japan's GINI coefficient shows a growing disparity in wealth, we have all seen the headlines about child abuse, and unemployment is on the rise leading to increasing desperation and frustration.

This move for harsher punishments is a typical example of backwards thinking, punishing the result of government failures, rather than reforming the system to remove the problem.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Look around, Japan, at those countries which treat their minors most harshly in the courts (some of them notoriously so); is that the kind of society you want to create?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Make it so!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I'd congratulate them on something LONG overdue, but as it says in the article they are only discussing it. Actually, scratch that, they're TALKING about discussing it in the future. Hopefully they hurry up and do this, though.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yes look around Japan! Over in Singapore if you dare graffiti, throw raw eggs at cars, like a stupid American kid from the US embassy had his ass whooped in public by a professional Kung fu dude using a traditional bamboo cane right across his sassy little but and guess what?? They do not have all Those young criminals like here in Japan or back in the USA etc... Spare the rod and spoil the child???

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's a start in the right direction.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Elbuda MexicanoAug. 27, 2012 - 03:22PM JST Yes look around Japan! Over in Singapore if you dare graffiti, throw raw eggs at cars, like a stupid American kid from the US embassy had his ass whooped in public by a professional Kung fu dude using a traditional bamboo cane right across his sassy little but and guess what?? They do not have all Those young criminals like here in Japan or back in the USA etc... Spare the rod and spoil the child???

A relatively quick, but humiliating and painful public caning? Sure thing. But that's not what they're discussing, they want to stick these kids in prisons for what will probably amount to longer than they've been alive, deprive them of any hope of a future career, cost the taxpayer a bundle taking care of them, and deprive them of their freedom for an offence committed when they were too young to understand 4-syllable words like "consequence"... that's idiotic.

Come up with better systems to take care of these kids. The vast majority of them aren't bad.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some European countries has less crime by children and teens than Japan, the UK and the US. They don't jail anyone under the age of 18. Even in the case of murder. Re-education is the priority here not punishment. How long should a child stay in prison? 10 years? 80 years? Locking people up doesn't stop crime.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think a start, is that the authorities should institute reform school. That would send a serious message!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

well, well, well, its the same all around the globe, ageing population, more young in the streets with no chance at a future but let me ask you, what do you do with a kid that's been in jail for fifteen years ? You just stick it out there and tell it it has to behave now, or else ? If deterrents would work like that crime would have been eradicated in europe during the dark ages. It's the underlying problems that need addressing, carefully, long-term, not just 4year political mandate term, or short hard measures to keep the majority of voters (the ageing populace) in a state of prozacnation mindset huh. Don't worry, it's not just Japan. It's a global thing again.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

WHAT?! The Japanese government is considering allowing the DEATH PENALTY for CHILDREN?!

What... the... If that becomes true, I'm leaving this country. That is vile and disgusting.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

severe penalty for minors is a welcome...in most country around the world, if a person can already distinguish between right and wrong and is on the age of reason he is an adult. I say 13 is a good number to start.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Amnesty International isn't going to like this! NOT ONE BIT!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's punishment enough just growing up in this country.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most young people are good, but these news harsher laws are intended for them bad apples, bad apples are in every country in the world, should we just let bad apples go hog wild until they are 20 years old? The age for being considered a legal adult in Japan??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Rather than changing the current laws I would rather say drop the age of becoming an adult from 20 to 18.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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