26th CCPCJ Agenda Item 4(b) Thematic discussion on comprehensive and integrated crime prevention strategies: public participation, social policies and education in support of the rule of law


Panelist Speech by Mr. Hiroshi Kikuchi, Assistant Vice-Minister of Justice, Minister’s Secretariat, Minister of Justice of Japan

It has been widely recognized that the rule of law and development are interrelated and mutually reinforcing, and this has become more evident under goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  
In order to achieve a peaceful and inclusive society as described in goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda, it is critically important that people respect each other as individuals, respect diverse ways of thinking and resolve issues or disputes in a peaceful and reasonable manner based on laws and legal principles. In this context, law-related education for the general public is important to enable the rule of law to permeate throughout the society. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce law-related education in Japan.  

(Permeating the rule of law throughout society; promotion of a culture of lawfulness)
Before getting into the details of law-related education in Japan, I would like to draw your attention to the notion of “promoting a culture of lawfulness” in the context of permeating the rule of law throughout society.   
Japan understands that the notion of a culture of lawfulness means that the public, in general, respects the law and its enforcement, trusting that they are just and fair. We see culture of lawfulness as one of the important factors that promote the rule of law in a society. A culture of lawfulness focuses not on government’s institution, framework or operation, but on the general public’s side. This has not necessarily been at the center of the focus in the discussion of the rule of law, which is why the notion is worth further exploring towards common understanding.  
Of course, the phrase “promoting a culture of lawfulness” is not new. It has been mentioned in UN guidelines on crime prevention (E/res/2002/13 Annex), an ECOSOC resolution on strengthening social policies as a tool for crime prevention (E/res/2014/21) and in the Doha Declaration.
Furthermore, such notion of a culture of lawfulness is particularly important within the context of crime prevention if one thinks about organized crime and corruption. Developing the law and strengthening its enforcement would be meaningless if people didn't trust the law and its enforcement, which may cause them to resort to criminal organizations to resolve their disputes. Likewise, people would bribe their government officials to promote their own interests if they didn't trust and respect the law and its enforcement.
Law-related education for the general public is fundamental to promoting a culture of lawfulness, that is, cultivating ground that accept and support the rule of law.

(Law-related education in Japan)
  Now, I would like to turn to law-related education in Japan. Here, law-related education means education for the general public, which enhances understanding of the law and the legal system as well as the core values underlying them.
  In order for a wide range of people to respect each other and live together, all members of the general public need to understand that the laws and rules are essential to resolve issues in a peaceful manner, as well as to protect the public interest. The general public also have to acquire the capacity to fairly accept diverse opinions and accommodate them to reach an agreement or to resolve issues properly. Law-related education is intended to achieve these goals. We consider it effective to start law-related education from the early stage of elementary school and to continue it seamlessly through the secondary school according to the level of development of the children.   
(An overview of law-related education for elementary schools and secondary schools)
Next, I would like to elaborate on what we provide in law-related education. For reference, elementary schools in Japan are for children from age 6 to 12, and secondary schools, which consist of 3 years of junior high and 3 years of high school.
In the elementary school, we offer, for example, basic lessons on recognizing the importance of keeping promises and following the laws and rules, using a hypothetical dispute over lending a book. In the secondary school, we offer a practical exercise such as making a rule for a local community to give students an understanding of fair and just rules, or negotiation of a hypothetical civil dispute and mock criminal trials. These exercises focus on giving students skills for solving issues based on laws and evidence while respecting the diverse opinions of others.  

(Efforts undertaken by the Japanese government)
The Japanese government has made multiple efforts to promote law-related education. The Ministry of Justice of Japan has established The Law-related Education Promotion Council, which has members consisting of legal professionals, educational professionals such as school teachers, and individual experts. This body discusses measures to implement law-related education as well as other matters related to the promotion of law-related education.
One of the efforts made was improving teaching materials on law-related education. Teaching materials that are easy to understand and useful for teachers who are not legal professionals were developed in order for them to lead law-related education classes in an efficient manner. These materials have been disseminated to more than 20,000 elementary schools, 10,000 junior high schools and other educational institutions so far.
Another effort is dispatching prosecutors, upon request, as instructors to secondary schools that have mock lay judge trial programs. Prosecutors provide practical advice to the students for their opening and closing arguments and examinations of witnesses in order to introduce the students to legal ways of thinking. Mock trials not only provide opportunities to learn how lay judge trials work, but also give students a chance to think about what happens to the defendants after the trial. Students then start to think of how to prevent the defendants from reoffending, which is a good way to introduce the students to another form of public participation in the context of rehabilitating and reintegrating the offenders into society.
It is also useful for the children to meet people who are involved in professions related to crime prevention and criminal justice. For example, some district courts provide opportunities for children to observe trials and meet with the judges, and prosecutors’ offices also provide similar opportunities.

(Law-related education taught by law school students)
Furthermore, a wide range of people in the community take part in implementation of law-related education. As an example, I would like to briefly introduce law-related education delivered by law school students.  
Currently, some law school students voluntarily engage in extra-curricular activities to promote law-related education. Those students not only teach at elementary schools and secondary schools, but they also offer classes for children and youth at juvenile correctional institutions. Students and teachers sometimes feel easier to relate with law school students rather than legal professionals, and the law school students are welcomed by the schools.

To conclude, what Japan is trying to achieve through law-related education is to develop a peaceful and safe society where people mutually respect each other. Looking ahead to the 14th Crime Congress, which is to be held in Japan, Japan considers law-related education as an important pillar for promoting a culture of lawfulness, and Japan will continue its effort to further promote law-related education.