Document Type

Social Sciences



Submission Date

January 2024


Japan’s juvenile justice system is regarded as one of the most unique and successful implementations of reformative justice. This approach has remained effective in maintaining Japan’s low rates of juvenile delinquency and recidivism, despite massive changes in Japanese society over the past decade. While Japan’s crime seems to be on an impressive decline, the United States continues to struggle with social control, juvenile delinquency, and, more recently, demands for justice reform from social movements like the Black Lives Matter Movement. The American juvenile justice system needs reform now more than ever and where better to get inspiration, than the industrialized country with the most success in lowering juvenile delinquency. To determine what is actually applicable to the U.S., I explored the relationship between the humanistic approach taken in juvenile training schools and recidivism. I investigated what the humanistic approach looked like in practice as well as the rates of both adult and juvenile recidivism associated with graduation from a juvenile training school. Several factors influence recidivism, so I looked at how those factors affected the efficacy of the humanistic approach. These included ties to community, family relationships, and offender typology. Japan’s success in juvenile restorative justice requires a specific combination of factors, many of which can be attributed to the strong, collectivist culture there. I finally explored how culture affects the implementation of Japan’s system to better understand if any practices can be applied to the U.S. The efficacy of Japan’s humanistic approach in training schools is highly dependent on other factors, therefore simply implementing their techniques is not enough to garner results. Further exploration into all the mechanisms of Japanese juvenile rehabilitation and employing perspectives outside of culture will narrow down the practices that could be utilized by the American system.


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