Source: (2003) In, Elmar Weitekamp and Hans-Jurgen Kerner, eds. Restorative Justice in Context: International Practice and Directions.Devon, UK and Portland Oregon: Willan Publishing. Pp.173-196.

Some criminologists in foreign countries have looked for the causes of the low Japanese crime rate. They say that it results from the underlying assumption of restorative justice that has traditionally been practiced in Japanese criminal justice. The practice and theory of Japanese criminal justice deserves a closer look. The Japanese criminal law system today knows only the traditional punishment that dissociates the offender and the victim from each other. The Japanese criminal justice system is in need of reform that will enable the remorseful offender to take on his or her accountability voluntarily. It is desirable to lay the legal foundations for victim-offender reconciliation or mediation, including the infrastructure necessary to support this. A stronger orientation of the criminal justice system towards restorative justice not only helps to address the consequences of crime, but will also contribute to a lowering of the crime rates. What the concept of restorative justice means differs depending on its advocates. But there are many common grounds, such as a voluntary and constructive collective response to the offense, peaceful settlement of conflict between victim and offender, community service, and payment of money to charity or similar under the control of the criminal justice authorities. In Japan, supportive and protective measures for victims have been implemented in various legal reforms. However, it is clear that they have all been taken in a framework in which they are compatible with the traditional offender-oriented retributive criminal law theory. It is suggested that Japan is not a model of the idea of restorative justice. A shift in perspectives or paradigms is necessary. This includes a change in thoughts from the concept of an individual-moralistic retributive criminal law to that of the victim-offender community-state interrelated act criminal law. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,