CrimProf Blog

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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Naughton on Juvenile Pre-disposition in Japan and the US

James Naughton (Loyola University Chicago School of Law) has posted Nihon No Shōnen No Seigi: A Comparative Analysis of Juvenile Pre-disposition in Japan and the United States (Loyola Children's Legal Rights Journal, 2017) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
With the close of World War II came a new chapter in the saga of American and Japanese juvenile justice. America’s post-war occupation of Japan had a lasting impact on Japan’s juvenile justice system (“system”), but it is now time for America to look to Japan for lessons on responding to youthful offenders. As Japan’s system and law have diverged in spirit and letter, Japan has seen a sharp decrease in juvenile crime peaking at 12.6% per 1,000 juveniles in 2003 and dropping to 6.2% in 2012. Japan’s juvenile crime rate in 2012 was the lowest the country had experienced since 1966. Scholars such as Kunzo Hiroyuki, and the National Police Academy of Japan credit the system’s focus on “the Juveniles’ sound development,” with attendant “protective measure[s] for the delinquent minor for the purpose of correcting his/her deficient character and improving his/her environment.” As criminologists Tom Ellis and Akira Kyo stated, “Japan, unlike the United States, has not moved away from the parens patriae idea,” which is reflected in Japan’s focus on protective, rehabilitative dispositions.

Part II of this paper will layout the structure of Japanese and American juvenile justice to contextualize the discussion of the pre-disposition phase of these two similar, yet unique systems. Part III will examine the possible dispositions of juveniles in both countries and examine their relative effectiveness at rehabilitating youth. Part III briefly touches on recommendations for improving the juvenile justice pre-dispositions of both countries based on best practices. Part IV concludes that America and Japan both have a common well to draw from and that a return to the source would prove fruitful for both countries.

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