2018 Volume 59 Issue 2 Pages 167-176
In Japan, the Family Court takes charge of criminal cases committed by juveniles. The criminal liability age is 14, and adolescents under 20 are initially processed according to the Juvenile Act (1948). Under this Act, “accountability”—an essential part of forensic psychiatry—is considered less critical than in adult cases.
Family Court probation officers are assigned to each Family Court, as specialists in the social sciences such as psychology, education, sociology, social welfare and law. Their primary function is to conduct interviews with the juveniles, parents, and other persons involved, to construct recommendations submitted to the judge regarding appropriate methods of reform for each case.
From the perspective of an ex-Family Court probation officer, characteristics of present-day juvenile delinquency in Japan are presented alongside discussion of the increasing relevance of the psychiatric perspective, the effective use of genograms, and importance of the forensic interview for correct and comprehensive understanding of juvenile cases.