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Toward a Balancing Approach: The Use of Apology in Japanese Society

Takahashi, Yoshiko
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) International Review of Victimology. 12(1): 23-45.

Restorative justice as a concept, as well as a process in criminal justice systems has received increased attention over the last decade. A significant feature of restorative justice is “satisfying justice.â€? In Japan, there is a strong cultural commitment to include a restorative concept. Traditionally, Japanese society has used informal methods of dispute resolution that maintain harmony among members of the group. One such method is the use of apology. By introducing the concept of restorative justice into the system, people could find more fulfillment from the criminal justice system. This article examines a Japanese society in which an apology has a particularly important meaning. Students’ opinions about apologies in criminal cases were examined. It was found that more Japanese students than American students believed the case would not be fully resolved without an apology from the offender. It is concluded that Japan would take a more restorative approach with a use of a one-to-one apology. The effective use of apology in the criminal justice system could be useful not only in Japan but in other countries as well. In conclusion, apology is an often overlooked aspect of restorative justice. Apology can be an effective element in how victims respond to restorative justice effects. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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