Source: (2003) In, Tatsuya Ota, ed., Victims and Criminal Justice: Asian Perspective. Tokoyo, Hogaku-Kenkyu-Kai, Keio University. Pp. 107-180.

In order to obtain restitution from offenders in Japan, crime victims may file lawsuits for damages against offenders as tort. A restitution order is not institutionalized in Japan, so a criminal court has no authority to order a defendant to pay damages to victims either as a punishment or as a civil judgment. Offenders' payment of damages to victims may be one of the mitigating circumstances in sentencing, however. Although offenders who receive remuneration for prison work may send part of it as restitution to victims, in practice there are only a few inmates who actually do this, and even then the amount of money sent to victims is small. In parole board decisions, reparation payments to victims for their loses may be taken into consideration as a part of "public feelings" and inmate "contrition." Regarding state compensation for crime victims, the Crime Victim Benefits Payment Act was passed in 1980 and came into force the following year. This legislation has the multiple purposes of supplementing the tort system and expanding social welfare and criminal policy by providing benefits to the bereaved families of crime victims killed or victims seriously injured as the result of a crime. The victim benefits system is not intended to make reparation for the damage suffered by victims, but rather to alleviate victim's economic distress by paying a lump sum award. Other major sections of the chapter focus on the victim support movement in Japan since the late 1990's, the provision for and implementation of victim notification in the course of criminal proceedings, victim protection in criminal proceedings, victim's participation in criminal justice decisionmaking, the debate over restorative justice, and the activities of nongovernmental victim support organizations. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.