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Message from the President

Kumiko Bandou President Japan Legal Support Center

Our mission is to make the legal system more familiar and accessible to the general public, and accordingly assure the access to justice throughout the country. The Japan Legal Support Center (the JLSC), as known as “Houterasu, was established twelve years ago on the accumulated passions and efforts of many people. 2018 is our thirteenth year, as well as the starting point of a four year period of the fourth mid-term objectives. Our role as a reliable bridge connecting people and the justice system is becoming more meaningful for the society. Being appointed as the president on April 10, in such an important timing, I am fully determined to achieve the missions.
Needless to say, our society is experiencing rapid and remarkable changes; the unprecedented aging, structural changes of the foundations of local communities and families, widening disparity between the rich and poor, the expansion of globalism and the increased use of information technology. Upon such changes, legal issues people are facing in their community and their expectations to the legal services and dispute resolution systems have also largely changed, increased and varied. After starting its operation, the JLSC has kept expanding and improving its services in order to deal with these changes.
Last January, we launched new services following the revision of the Comprehensive Legal Support Act. One of them is special supports for people whose insufficient cognitive functions disturb them to realize their own rights. For such people, the JLSC is now providing legal consultations after an application from the local government or social welfare agencies. We also expanded the scope of the documentation and representation aid to some administrative complaint filing procedures for such people. We also started the special legal consultation for the victims of domestic violence, child abuse and stalking. This consultation can address the criminal issues, differently from the normal consultation aid.
From June, 2018, the court will increase the number of appointments to defense counsel for detainees before the prosecution because of the revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows all detainees to have counsel whether or not they can afford it. Since the JLSC is entrusted by the court to manage the most of the appointing process, such as nomination of candidates for defense counsel and the payment for the appointed counsel, the scope of our work will be proportionately increased.
Houterasu, the JLSC’s nickname, contains a meaning to shine the society. As the Comprehensive Legal Support Act aims at creating a society where the necessary legal support can be received throughout the country, we are expected to shed lights in every corner of our community. Especially in such corners, there are so many people who are suffering from collateral problems, such as the financial, mental and physical issues. For these people, the legal aid alone cannot promote their lives, but a holistic approach is needed. Our staff attorneys have made efforts to tackle such situations by making collaboration with other organizations in the community. Such activity was named as “the legal social work” and, gradually, its impact was recognized. Eventually, since 2014, the beginning of the third midterm, the JLSC has officially announced the legal social work as one of our business. We are now totally committed to enhance this activity so that we can reach out to the people who suffer the most and shine their lives.
Lastly, as a president, I will devote myself to achieve the JLSC’s mission. My experiences as a government official, who worked in many fields, including the education, consumer policy and gender equality, will be fully utilized, as well as the network I have made with various departments. I will also contribute to strengthening the institutional foundation of the JLSC so that our staffers work with joy and, as a result, they will be able to fully comfort the service seekers.
The JLSC itself is not big enough to cover the all planned programs. As designed, the understanding and cooperation of concerned parties are essential to carry out the JLSC’s services. I appreciate the continuous and dedicating supports to the JLSC from various sectors and people, and expect them to move forward with us for the betterment of our society.


April 10, 2018
Kumiko Bandou
Japan Legal Support Center

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