What is the Comprehensive Legal Support Plan?
The Comprehensive Legal Support Act was approved at the 2004 ordinary Diet session. The Act is based on the Comprehensive Legal Support Plan, which is designed to provide all citizens in Japan with necessary information and services for legal solutions to disputes both on civil and on criminal affairs so that the justice system may be more accessible to the citizens.
Japan Legal Support Center (Houterasu)
The Japan Legal Support Center (Houterasu), established within the framework of an independent administrative agency, forms the core of the Comprehensive Legal Support Plan. The Ministry of Justice takes charge of the corporate body.
The Houterasu, with the purpose of promptly and properly implementing operations related to comprehensive legal support, was established in April 2006 and commenced its operations in October of the same year.
Outline of the Operations of the Japan Legal Support Center (Houterasu)
The principal operations of Japan Legal Support Center (Houterasu) consist of the following five (5) services as prescribed in Article 30, Paragraph 1 of the Act:
- Information Services
- Civil Legal Aid
- Legal Aid for Criminal Defense
- Measures for Areas with Limited Legal Services
- Support for Victims of Crime
Another service area for the Houterasu is coordinating and encouraging the cooperation of authorities and organizations that have operations related to the five (5) core services. Moreover, the Houterasu may also provide services entrusted by the national government, local governments, non-profit corporations and other organizations, to the extent it does not impair the Houterasu’s delivery of its core services (Article 30, Paragraph 2 of the Act). In addition, since April 2012, the Houterasu has been providing legal aid to survivors and victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.