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Japan: Act Provides for Money to be Paid to Victims of Overseas Crimes

(Sept. 8, 2016) Japan’s Act on Provision of Condolence Money to Victims of Overseas Crime (Condolence Money Act) was promulgated on June 7, 2016.  (Act No. 73, KANPO (June 7, 2016) (in Japanese).)  For crime victims inside Japan, there is a law that obligates the government to provide condolence money to them.  (Act on Support for Crime Victims by Provision of Money to Crime Victims, etc., Act No. 36 of 1980, E-GOV.) After a stabbing rampage in Guam in 2013 that killed three Japanese tourists, friends of one of the victims lobbied lawmakers to enact a new law that covers overseas crime victims.  (Kokugai hanzai higaisha kyusai de ho seiritsu, Choikin no joken kibishiku, NIKKEI (June 25, 2016).)

Under the new Condolence Money Act, the government will pay ¥2 million (about US$20,000) per family where a Japanese victim dies due to a crime committed outside Japan, and ¥1 million (about US$10,000) to a victim who was injured and, as a consequence, has a disability.  (Act, arts. 4 & 8.)  The degrees of disability that make victims eligible to receive the condolence money are established in the Act.  (Id. art. 2 ¶ 4 & Table.)  For example, for an eyesight disability to qualify for the payment, the blinding of both eyes is required.  (Id.)

The condolence money may not be paid to victims if the crime occurred in areas where danger against life and the person was foreseen and they went to such areas without justification, or if the victim had some special relationship with the aggressor.  (Id. art. 6.)

The people who lobbied for the Act think that the amounts to be paid by the government are too small and the conditions are too strict.  They do think, however, that the legislation was an important first step.  (Kokugai hanzai higaisha kyusai de ho seiritsu, Choikin no joken kibishiku, supra.)