TJ founder David B. Wexler reflects on his recent visit to the Japan where TJ is being used as a lens for legal system reform…
I’ve just returned from Japan, where , on September 1, 2017, I keynoted a fantastic therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) program. The fact that I returned home to Puerto Rico the night before Category 5 Hurricane Irma (and left home a day late because of Hurricane Harvey) didn’t diminish the excitement of my experience—though it did, for lack of electrical power, require the preparation of this Blog by long-hand (memories of third grade)…and I’m now putting it into Word on some internet café boasting power.
The TJ program in Tokyo was nestled into a joint three day convention of several prestigious professional groups:
The Japanese Criminology Society
The Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology
The Japanese Society of Law and Forensic Social Services
The Japanese Association of Criminal Psychiatry
The Japanese Association of Social Problems
My keynote, on Judging and the Therapeutic Application of the Law, which was translated into a large number of Japanese slides (soon to be available on the searchable TJ bibliography), was followed by TJ talks by representatives of the above organizations.
The overall session was full of substance and was followed by a serious and spirited Question and Answer session. Moreover, an audience of 100-150 was expected but the actual turnout exceeded 400! (Not fake news: we have photographic evidence of crowd size!)
And at the close of the academic session, as well as at a small reception of the speakers and at a large general reception the following night, there was continued excited discussion and a brisk exchange of business cards and email addresses.
I’ve already struggled with my barely charged iphone to send requested material to a number of interested attendees, and in return have received some very valuable and informative documents—including an interesting piece (in English) by Masashiro Suzuki and Akinori Ootani questioning the conventional wisdom that restorative justice , rather than Japanese culture, is responsible for a relatively low local crime rate.
Where do we all go from here? How can the momentum be captured and exploited? These sorts of questions are likely to be of interest in any geographical region or jurisdiction seeking to encourage the development of TJ.
I was extremely fortunate to have three hosts (almost caretakers!) for my stay:
- Hiroko Goto, an accomplished specialist in TJ and juvenile law and member of the faculty in Chiba, who collected my wife Gigi and me at the airport and accompanied us on professional and other delicious moments (such as sushi breakfast at the Tsukiji fish market!). Hiroko made copies of all the business cards exchanged with me, and plans to construct an email list of those interested in pursuing TJ activities in Japan. The collection process is obviously an ongoing one, and her email address is email@example.com ;
- Dr. Makoto Ibusuki, Director of the new and exciting Center for Therapeutic Jurisprudence at Tokyo’s Seijo University, who guided us to some important functions and whose Center is translating some TJ works, such as my extensive power point as well as an iconic TJ/competency to stand trial article by the late Bruce Winick; and
- Dr. Shinichi Ishizuka, of Ryukoku University in Kyoto, President of the Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology, and head of a TJ project implementing an Addiction Recovery Circle. Dr. Ishizuka and his wife also opened their Tokyo-bay view apartment to us for a wonderful and tasty reception , complete with available slippers for the many guests.
As it turns out, each of these three TJ leaders in Japan is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the newly-launched (during the Prague meeting in July) International Society for Therapeutic Jurisprudence. They are thus in a prime position to serve as liaisons between the Society and the growing Japanese TJ community. We look forward to them and others in Japan contributing to this very Blog and forming an important component of the TJ Society.
Perhaps with the anticipated growth of TJ in Japan, it will become even clearer how the contributions of the various professional organizations—contributions in sociology, criminology, social work, psychology, psychiatry etc (the so-called “vineyards” that can produce the suggested practices and “wine” of TJ) can be crafted into judicially-useful dialogues that can be used in court to improve the well-being of the participants. (Wexler, New Wine; Wexler, Guiding Court Conversations). That may be an advance that might also serve to attract members of the judiciary to attend the future professional conferences of the five associations.
In any case, we hope and expect that Sept. 1, 2017 will be a memorable day for TJ in Japan. And the touching coincidence is that , for TJ fans, Sept. 1 is itself already a memorable day for TJ: it is the birthday of my late colleague/coauthor/dear friend/ and TJ co-developer Bruce Winick. I’m sure he’s smiling. Happy Birthday, Bruce! And a big Arigato to all!