THE INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE
Persons younger than 20 years of age are legally considered juveniles. According to the Juvenile Law, juvenile cases go to Family Court. The court subsequently determines the need to subject the juvenile in question to protective measures and the most beneficial treatment for the juvenile. Possible measures include placement under the supervision of probation officers, commitment to juvenile education, or placement in a training home or a house for defendant children. Another option is commitment to a juvenile training school.
When the police clear a juvenile case, the case is referred directly to Family Court for offenses that may be punished with fines or a lighter punishment. Either that or they are sent to a public prosecutor for offenses that may be punished with imprisonment, capital punishment, and so forth. After the referral, if any crime is suspected the public prosecutor must complete an investigation of the case and then refer the case to a Family Court. When a public prosecutor refers the case to the Family Court, the prosecutor can offer a request for the treatment of the juvenile. The public prosecutor may request detention only in juvenile cases where it is deemed necessary. When detention is required, a judge may order the juvenile to be detained in a juvenile classification home based on the decision by the judge (Article 17 of the Juvenile Law) (Fig. 10.2).
Figure 10.2. Flowchart of treatment procedure for juvenile offenders and offenders in Japan. Source: White Paper on Crime Tokyo in Japan (2005).