chapter  1
28 Pages

Forces of change

ByErik Herber

In 1985, Ryūichi Hirano, emeritus law professor and former president of Tokyo University, presented what he called a diagnosis of the Japanese Code of Criminal Procedure. Comparing Japan with the United States and Europe, he found the Japanese criminal process to be “rather abnormal” and “diseased”, and concluded that “criminal trials in Japan are really quite hopeless” (1989: 129, 142). 1 Coming from a highly respected expert from Japan’s top university, Hirano’s diagnosis provoked much discussion and debate. It also sowed the seeds of the change that was to come, change that looked like the “cure” that Hirano proposed. Still, Hirano’s diagnosis was by no means the only impetus for legal change. There were in fact many different driving forces, originating both within and outside of Japan. This chapter will zoom in on those driving forces: the incidents and occurrences that either had an impact on or gave birth to the roles played by the criminal justice outsiders that are the focus of this book. Here, Hirano’s diagnosis is a good place to start. Not only because of the debate it provoked, but also as a reference point to return to when assessing the impact of criminal justice outsiders’ roles.