Saturday, April 25, 2009

"It always begins with the rain."

On TV there is some sort of dating show. The caption reads 草食男子VS肉食女子 - Herbivorous Boy VS Carnivorous Girl. "Is this kind of match possible?" asks the narrator. "Lately there is an increase of girls "capturing" this type of boy."

"I want to protect him," one such girl says.

"I went on a date with a meat-eating girl," one such boy says. "It was the first time since I've been born."

I change the channel.


I've noticed that Japanese dramas like to feature new services, as though to test the public response to an unfamiliar system, and perhaps also promote approval of it. For instance, there was a bill promoting the use of helicopters in emergency medical response - which was shortly followed by the TV show "Code Blue: Doctor Heli Urgent Lifesaving" starring some of the hottest young actors. It was all the talk among my students.

Tonight is the first episode of 魔女裁判 or "The Witch Trial" starring Ikuta Toma who is a very popular young actor and one of my personal favorites. But to me the most interesting star of the show will be the jury to which he is called to serve. Japan doesn't have a jury system as we know it in the USofA. Starting in May, six "lay judges" will be randomly selected. From the level of protest, it will take more than a popular TV fictional drama to get approval for the system. When I first got here, I had a conversation about our dissimilar legal systems with a Japanese teacher.

Them: But... how can a group of people without legal knowledge make a fair judgement?

Me: But... how can a single person with their own personal biases make a fair judgement?

I'm not legally savvy enough to say if one country has a better method than another. Crime is such a delicate area that there probably isn't a perfect system. But see, I'd been called to jury duty twice before I even graduated from college. I served the full trial both times for a combined time of about five weeks. It was an enormous inconvenience - I failed one class because of missed lectures, and my grades were dangerously low in others. After the first trial I had nightmares for months. Despite all that, I would serve if I am called again. The experience left me with assurance in the system, to the extent that if I am on trial myself I would be satisfied to be judged by my peers. On the other hand, seeing it in action made me more determined than ever not to ever be in the position of the defendant. Which is to say, I am inclined to agree with the closing of this post.

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