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Japan justice ministry proposes integrating criminal and civil lawsuits

[JURIST] The Japanese Justice Ministry [official website, English version] has introduced plans for a new court process that will allow crime victims to sue for damages in a civil lawsuit that runs simultaneously with a criminal trial. In an effort to help speed up compensation for victims, the planned system will allow crime victims to use evidence from the criminal trial without any hindering court procedures. The current system requires victims to file civil lawsuits separately from criminal cases, and different judges handle both cases using different court procedures, but the proposed system will put the civil lawsuits under the jurisdiction of the judge presiding over the criminal case.

The Justice Ministry plans to ask the Legislative Council to begin consideration of the plan and submit a report in February. After that, the Justice Ministry will submit a bill to the National Diet of Japan [official website], the Japanese legislature, to implement the planned legal system next year. The proposed system will likely only apply to serious crimes, such as murder, violent robbery and rape, and will exclude economic crimes. The proposed legal system came in response to the 1999 Justice System Reform Promotion Act [official backgrounder], which called for an investigation into the country's legal system and a comprehensive report on how to improve the system under the guide of the Office for Promotion of Justice System Reform [official website]. Japan's Daily Yomiuri has more.

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