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Idealizing the Other? Western Images of the Japanese Criminal Justice System.

Goold, Benjamin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Criminal Justice Ethics. Winter/Spring: 14-24.

Some Western advocates of restorative justice ideas and practices have held up Japan – its criminal justice system with its cultural underpinnings – as a model of appropriate shaming in response to wrongdoing and crime. Low crime rates in Japan, especially compared to some countries with typically Western cultures and criminal justice systems, appear to demonstrate the effectiveness of shaming as found in Japanese culture. As Benjamin Goold observes, this tends in some perspectives to expand to very positive assessments of the roles of the police, prosecutors, and judges in relation to Japanese communities and to the treatment of offenders. Japan has become for some a kind of “criminal justice utopia.â€? Goold, picking up on other analyses of Western approaches to Asian cultures and countries, asks whether such views of Japanese criminal justice are idealizations, even to the point of stereotyping. To explore this, he examines works by David Bayley, John Braithwaite, and others from Western cultures with respect to their perspectives on and treatments of Japanese culture and criminal justice.


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