At school, we learned that the separation of three powers of government is “a technique to operate a country under law by separating legislative, executive and judicial branches, or, in other words, separating the establishment, enforcement and application of law, to mutually oversee each other.” The judicial branch is invested with two important functions. First, it is empowered to rule on the constitutionality of the laws enacted by the legislative branch. Second, with regard to the executive branch, it is empowered to try and rule on administrative cases brought before the courts. However, the public does not deeply trust and understand the functions of the judiciary. Efforts should be made to improve the public’s trust in the judicial branch as well as to engage the legislative branch.
1. Stop Shooting Down Those Who Stand Out!
About a decade ago, the Livedoor case and the Murakami fund case created a sensation among the public. I think many of you had an impression that “those who stand out” are shot down, while those who do not stand out—whether they be individuals or corporations—are left alone and any serious crimes they may have committed are ignored.
After an arrest is made, information from the investigation is steadily leaked to the press, while the accused has no way to respond to these public accusations and is unilaterally made out to be evil. Such cases still occur. Regardless of what eventually happens in court, a decision has long been rendered in the court of public opinion.
It is desirable to punish crime. However, is it right for society to shoot down people who are trying to create new value or to improve society and, in some cases, to arrest such individuals on completely unrelated minor charges and punish them? I find this to be very questionable.
Since the Livedoor and Murakami fund cases, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of students striving to become entrepreneurs, and stock prices of Japanese venture companies have languished. The end result has been that no one wants to stand out from the crowd. This state of affairs will not energize society. Instead of going after “those who stand out,” it is my hope that the prosecutors will hunt down “those who are truly evil” in a fair manner.
2. Transparent and Speedy Trials!
Most members of the public tend to avoid Japan’s current court system because its procedures are excessively time consuming, costly and exhausting. This means people either resort to methods of resolution that are very opaque or simply give up and silently bear their losses. It is hoped that trial procedures will be sped up and simplified as much as possible.
3. Ensure Transparency in Investigations by Prosecutors!
A well-known consultant has said, “If the government, public prosecutors, and the media conspire to do so, anyone can be found guilty of a crime.” The false charges brought against Atsuko Muraki, Bureau Chief of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, are still fresh in our memories. The interrogation of suspects by prosecutors should be visible and recorded. The principle of “innocent until proven guilty” must be strictly adhered to and investigations by the prosecution must be fully transparent. All possible efforts must be made through such initiatives to avoid false charges.
4. Get the Legislature Moving to Revise Unnecessary and Meaningless Laws!
When laws no longer reflect the present reality (dead letter laws), requiring strict compliance to such laws can have a serious impact on economic activities. This invites an attitude of playing it safe and avoidance of the risk of illegality. It also can lower motivation throughout society (leading to a so-called compliance recession). These problems are becoming increasingly visible in our society today. The corporate sector, politicians and bureaucrats must join forces to get the legislative branch moving to revise unnecessary and meaningless laws.
The unconstitutional disparity in the value of votes must also be corrected as soon as possible and the legislature must be strongly urged to act on this problem. The “National Movement for Realizing One-Person One-Vote” was launched by Hidetoshi Masunaga, attorney-at-law, to guarantee that people are equal under the law. The group has placed lengthy ads in newspapers urging people to vote for the dismissal of Supreme Court justices who have taken a passive stance on correcting voter disparity. This is a dramatic development. Individuals should consider what is right and what is wrong. They should express their opinions and take action, such as by starting popular movements or by initiating shareholders’ derivative suits when they have doubts about the decisions made by corporate management. I believe this will raise Japan to a higher level as a nation under the rule of law.