CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lavin on Japanese Criminal Justice

Levin_MarkMark Levin (University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law) has posted Considering Japanese Criminal Justice from an Original Position (「無知のヴェール」から日本の刑事司法を考える) (世界 SEKAI, no. 857, pp. 112-121, June 2014) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The criminal justice systems of the United States and Japan are both severely flawed. While some have worked hard to present these deep-seated problems to the public, the overall situation in either country is of stalled reform initiatives and ongoing injustices. 

Race underlies a difference in how reform discussions proceed in the two nations. It is at the core of what ails the system in the U.S., as authors such as Professor Michelle Alexander have powerfully demonstrated. On the other hand, Japan’s would-be reformers operate in an atmosphere of widespread race obliviousness despite there being meaningful racial dynamics at play in Japan today. 

This article, published in a leading Japanese public policy journal, offers that differences in public awareness of race in the two nations are salient.

The article encourages reformers in Japan to contemplate this when strategizing their efforts. To that end, discourse that deploys John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance in his Theory of Justice into the Japanese public consciousness may provide a fruitful mechanism for improving the efficacy of reform efforts there.

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