Source: (2012) International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. Published onlien DOI 10.1007/s11196-012-9295-4

In the field of Conflict Transformation, Restorative Justice (RJ) is often perceived as a transformative process focused on healing relationships after a specific harm. The parties considered in a RJ setting are those harmed, those responsible and the community impacted. This is particularly true in the field of criminal and transitional justice, and in an extended and spiritual view, there is reconciliation with the parties and God. Despite cultural differences, RJ theory and concepts have been accepted favorably in the many countries. From a viewpoint focused on methodology and process, however, cultural differences have a significant effect for implementation. For example, important concepts such as control, choice, harm, responsibility, apology, shame, reconciliation and forgiveness vary greatly in the manner in which they are perceived from culture to culture and may create obstacles for successful implementation of a successful process when one culture’s process and definitions are forced upon another. Therefore, promotional factors (i.e., culture and religion) and the implication of semiotics (cultural definition or meaning) are an absolute consideration in developing a RJ process within a particular culture. This paper discusses the cultural differences between the United States and Japan with regard to semiotic obstacles in the implementation of a RJ model in the Japanese criminal justice system. While the exploration of cultural differences, particularly between the United States and Japan is not new and has been the focus of many disciplines, little has been considered regarding the assimilation and implementation of a Western RJ model into the Eastern culture of Japan. In sum, is an attempt to clarify and integrate the effects of cultural differences for some factors (i.e., Control/Choice, Harm, Apology, Responsibility, Shame, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation) as they apply to a RJ based reconciliation process focused in Semiotics, Social psychology and the Sociology of law as they apply to the United States and Japan. (authors' abstract)


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