A Trip to Japan

Participation in the Transnational Program at the Waseda University School of Law in Tokyo.

From 7 to 11 March 2016, Professor Dr. Thomas Rönnau (Chair of Criminal Law), accompanied by Kilian Wegner (Research Assistant) and Philipp Hillingmeier (LL.B. Student 2011) took part in the Transnational Program held at the Waseda University School of Law in Tokyo. The Waseda University School of Law is one of the most prestigious law schools in Japan and is a long-standing partner university of Bucerius Law School.

The content of the conference dealt with the participation of laypersons in criminal procedures. While the U.S. American legal system of lay participation attaches strong importance to a jury system, this form of lay participation plays a much lesser role in continental Europe. In his conference presentation, Professor Rönnau summarized the history of the German regulatory model in which the involvement of laypersons in criminal jurisdiction is manifested in the Court of Lay Assessors. The presentation led to the conference participants lively debating the pros and cons of this model. The topic is currently of particular interest in East Asia because several years ago both Japan and South Korea significantly increased the level of lay participation in their respective criminal procedures and are currently in an evaluation process. Taiwan is also discussing possible reforms in this area.

In addition to the stimulating professional exchange, the conference program offered a range of fascinating insights into the sophistication of Japanese culture as well as into the everyday life in the metropolis of Tokyo with its 13 million inhabitants. Besides the impressive culinary experience, an excursion into the correctional facility of Yokohama was a highlight of the trip.