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JAPAN’S STANCE TOWARD THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely accepted human rights treaty; Japan signed it in 1990 and ratified it in 1994 (Toshio 2015). Even though the Ministry pointed out that it did not need to amend the related Japanese laws because the ideology of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child would already coincide with the Japanese Constitutional Law and Fundamental Law on Education, the Japanese government practically amended the Child Abuse Prevention Law in 2004 and 2008, the Child Welfare Act in 2004 and 2008, the Penal Code in 2005, the Fundamental Law on Education in 2010, and promulgated the Act on Promotion of Development and Support for Children and Young People in 2010. The Japanese government submitted the third periodic report of Japan to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child 2010). Alternatively, the Japanese government revised the Juvenile Law in 2000 to strongly reinforce penalties in juvenile criminal cases (Ryan 2005). The second revision to the Juvenile Law shows that the “get tough” policy is gaining more support after the previous amendment in 2000 lowered the minimum age of suspects for reverse referral from 16 to 14 years old. The second revised Juvenile Law contains more “get-tough” content than ever. Hereinafter, the Juvenile Law constitutes an obstacle to the treatment of child offenders by a specialized juvenile court.
The “Recommendations of the Justice System Reform Council for a Justice System to Support Japan in the twenty-first century” report pointed out the need to promote juveniles’ rights in the process of trial (Ikenaga 2005). Furthermore, the Committee on the Rights of the Child also pointed out the problems in juvenile justice in the Japanese second report (CRC/C/104/Add.2) in 2004 and the third report (CRC/C/JPN/3) in 2010; in particular, the area of juvenile justice would be still inconsistent with the principles and provisions of the Convention.
Japanese Juvenile Law has adopted a rather punitive approach and has restricted the rights and judicial guarantees of child offenders. Japan’s stance toward the overall rights of the child strengthens efforts to promote for it, but it has a different stance toward child offenders. In Japan currently, the protection of society and victims of crime is considered more of a priority than are the rights of child offenders, particularly in light of the Juvenile Law.
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