Ruling parties agree to revise Juvenile Law

Ruling parties agree to revise Juvenile Law

TOKYO, Sept. 5 Kyodo

The three ruling parties agreed Tuesday to revise the Juvenile Law to make juveniles criminally responsible from the age of 14, two years younger than under the current law, senior ruling party members said.

The move is aimed at dealing with the increasing number of heinous crimes committed by juveniles in Japan in recent years.

The ruling coalition — the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the New Komeito party and the New Conservative Party — plans to submit a bill to an extraordinary Diet session to convene later this month and have it passed into law, the members said.

The ruling parties’ joint task force on the Juvenile Law will start work to draw up the bill after discussing details of the plan, they added.

According to a senior LDP member, the New Komeito was initially cautious about lowering the age at which juveniles can be given criminal penalties, as such moves would not be in line with the spirit of protecting minors.

However, it has changed the stance with a senior New Komeito member saying, ”It is necessary to send some sort of message” as a ruling party to deal with the frequent occurrence of vicious crimes committed by juveniles.

The Juvenile Law stipulates that a family court can send a juvenile suspected of committing murder or other serious crimes to public prosecutors for indictment in order to be tried at a district court on criminal charges.

But the law carries a conditional clause banning a family court from sending a juvenile under 16 to prosecutors.

The LDP has called for lowering the age of criminal responsibility since 1997, when a 14-year-old boy in Kobe, western Japan, was arrested over the killing of two children and injuring of three others earlier that year.

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