Social Constructionism Comes to Japan: Revision of the Juvenile Law

Elmer H. Johnson, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

The Juvenile Law of Japan, enacted in 1947, is a prime example of one version of the juvenile justice policy: to provide guidance, care, and protection to juvenile offenders no matter the seriousness of their offense. A number of violent offenses by Japanese juveniles has stirred a "moral panic" resembling the recent experiences in the United States. Using press reports, this paper traces the construction of a perceived public crisis culminating in the hardening of the Juvenile Law. That action appears to be symptomatic of changes underway in Japanese society at large.

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Updated 05/20/2006