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What Discourages Participation in the Lay Judge System (Saiban’in Seido) of Japan? Interaction between the Secrecy Requirement and Social Networks

Yamamura, Eiji (2010): What Discourages Participation in the Lay Judge System (Saiban’in Seido) of Japan? Interaction between the Secrecy Requirement and Social Networks.

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Abstract

The lay judge system, a quasi-jury system, was introduced in Japan from May 2009. This paper attempts to analyze Japanese people’s attitude towards this system by examining whether they show a willingness to serve as a lay judge. The major findings from regression analysis are: (1) In general, people with a spouse inclined to adopt a negative attitude about serving as a lay judge. This tendency is, however, not observed in large cities. (2) Long-time residents and homeowners are more likely to have a negative attitude about serving as a lay judge. These results show that a tightly knitted interpersonal social network discourages people from serving as a lay judge. Because of the life time secrecy obligation and the penalty provisions for those who break this obligation, people with closer interpersonal ties are under greater pressure and strains, leading to larger psychological cost. The obligation and its penalty should be eased to improve people’s attitudes about serving as a lay judge.

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