Sex Crimes and Criminal Justice in Japan

19:00 (Doors open at 18:30)
  • Setsuo Miyazawa (Adjunct Professor at TUJ, Professor Emeritus at Kobe University and Senior Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law)
  • Mari Hirayama (Professor of Law at Hakuoh University)
  • Hiroko Goto (Professor of Law, Chiba University Law School)
Azabu Hall, Temple University, Japan Campus
1F Parliament
Kyle Cleveland (ICAS Associate Director)
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Shiori Ito, a freelance journalist, filed a complaint against a male journalist who allegedly raped her in May 2015. When the prosecutor decided not to prosecute him in July 2016, she filed a compliant to the Inquest of Prosecution (Kensatsu Shinsakai) which has the power to issue a binding decision to prosecute him and held a press conference about her decision. This was an extremely unusual action for a rape victim in Japan. However, the Inquest of Prosecution upheld the decision of the prosecutor and this incident has raised a serious question about the responsiveness of the Japanese criminal justice system to sex crimes.

On the other hand, the Japanese parliament (Diet), amended the century-old sex crime provisions in the Penal Code in June 2017 and the amendments quickly went into effect. Among other revisions, the definition of rape was expanded to cover male victims, the minimum sentences were raised from three to five years, and offenders may be prosecuted without formal complaints from alleged victims. While there are many remaining issues, these amendments may be interpreted to reflect the changing attitudes toward sex crimes in Japan.

This panel will discuss the treatment of sex crimes in the criminal justice system in Japan. The first speaker, Setsuo Miyazawa, will explain basic elements and major issues of the Inquest of Prosecution, the lay-judge (Saiban-in) system, the system of active participation of crime victims and their representatives in criminal trials, and the legislative process on criminal justice policies. The second speaker, Mari Hirayama, will analyze how sex crimes are handled by the Inquest of Prosecution and the lay-judge system, partly based on her own empirical studies. The third speaker, Hiroko Goto, will analyze the background and the legislative process of the Penal Code amendments in 2017 and discuss remaining issues.


Setsuo Miyazawa

Adjunct Professor at TUJ, Professor Emeritus at Kobe University and Senior Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law

Setsuo Miyazawa is a legal sociologist with a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale and a S.J.D. from Hokkaido University. In Japan, he taught as a full-time faculty member at Hokkaido University, Kobe University, Waseda University, Omiya Law School, and Aoyama Gakuin University before reaching mandatory retirement at Aoyama in 2016. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Kobe University. In the United States, he taught as a visiting professor at ten law schools, including Harvard, Berkeley, and NYU, before joining UC Hastings on a full-time basis teaching every fall in 2013. He received the Distinguished Book Award of the Division of International Criminology of the American Society of Criminology in 1993 and the International Scholarship Prize of the Law and Society Association in 2014. He was the Founding President of the Asian Law and Society Association in 2016 and 2017. Most recently, he co-edited (with Jianhong Liu) Crime and Justice in Contemporary Japan (Springer, 2018).

Mari Hirayama

Professor of Law at Hakuoh University

Mari Hirayama is a Professor of Law at Hakuoh University where she teaches Criminal Procedure and Criminology. She has been conducting research on the impact of the lay judge system in sex crime cases, mandatory prosecution by prosecution review commissions, restorative justice, recording interrogations, and most recently, the possibility of establishing independent agencies to review criminal convictions. She received the Fulbright Scholarship and completed her LL.M. at the University of Minnesota Law School in 2003. She received her BA in Law from Ritsumeikan University and her LL.M. from Kwansei Gakuin University. Her recent publications in English include, “Introduction of Videotaping of Interrogations and the Lessons of the Imaichi Case: A Case of Conventional Criminal Justice Policy-Making in Japan” (co-authored with Setsuo Miyazawa), Washington International Law Journal, Vol. 27 No. 1 (2017) and “A Future Prospect of Criminal Justice Policy for Sex Crime in Japan-the Role of the Lay Judge System There,” Crime and Justice in Contemporary Japan (edited by Jianhong Liu and Setuso Miyazawa, Springer 2018).

Hiroko Goto

Professor of Law, Chiba University Law School

Hiroko Goto is a Professor of Chiba University Law School where she teaches Juvenile Law, Gender and Law and Criminal Treatment Law. She has been conducting research on how to make the criminal justice system more female friendly, reintegration and rehabilitation of female criminals, domestic violence, stalking, and therapeutic jurisprudence. She received her BA in Law and her LL.M from Keio University. She was a former member of the Science Council of Japan and an expert member on violence against women for the Gender Equality Bureau. She is a board member of the Japan Association of Gender and Law and the Japanese Association of Victimology. In English, she has recently published “Will Prime Minister Abe’s ‘Womenomics’ Break Glass Ceilings in Japan?” Hastings International and Comparative Review, Vol. 39, p441 (2016). Her comments are also covered in “Shifting attitudes toward sexual violence in Japan,” The Japan Times (Jan.6, 2018).