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Top prosecutors office sets terms for name disclosure under Japan's revised Juvenile Act

Central Government Building No. 6 that houses the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office and the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- As the amended Juvenile Act in Japan, which lifts the ban on media organizations from reporting the legal names of indicted 18- and 19-year-olds, will come into effect in April, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office on Feb. 8 notified high and district public prosecutors offices nationwide of the basic terms for deciding when to disclose their names.

    The top prosecutors office considers people subject to the disclosure as those involved in "cases where the crime is serious and has a severe impact on the local community," and said, "Even considering their healthy development and rehabilitation, we should also think about it from the perspective of responding to the legitimate interests of society." Cases subject to lay judge trials were cited as typical examples for the disclosure.

    The notification stated that in addition to cases subject to lay judge trials, if there is high demand from society for name disclosure and the impact on rehabilitation is relatively small, whether or not to reveal their names is left to the individual discretion of the prosecutors.

    One senior prosecutor said, "Everything will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but in principle, legal names will be disclosed in cases subject to lay judge trials."

    During Diet deliberations on the revised Juvenile Act, some opposed lifting the ban on reporting the names of 18- and 19-year-olds with the emphasis on their rehabilitation, and the Judicial Affairs Committee at both lower and upper chambers adopted a supplementary resolution stating that "when publicizing a case, consideration must be given so as not to interfere with the healthy development and rehabilitation (of those indicted)."

    (Japanese original by Kazuya Shimura, Tokyo City News Department)

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