Local Public Prosecutors Offices (“Ku-Kensatsucho” or “Kuken” in Japanese) handle criminal cases such as traffic accidents and thefts, which are tried at summary courts. At Kuken, assistant public prosecutors investigate and prosecute these cases. The appointment of women as assistant prosecutors, however, has remained low – accounting for only 2% of all assistant prosecutors. It seems that many women are reluctant to become assistant prosecutors on account of difficulties balancing their profession with their family life. Under these circumstances, the public prosecutors’ office has begun taking measures to rectify the current situation by assigning female personnel to districts within their commuting range.
Assistant public prosecutors are selected through an examination process from among paralegals with more than three years’ experience [and who haven’t taken the national bar exam]. The examination pass rate in FY2015 was 22%. As mass retirements of assistant prosecutors are expected to continue, securing the necessary number of assistant prosecutors is an urgent need.
According to the Justice Ministry, as of March 2015, the number of assistant public prosecutors was 756, about 30% of all public prosecutors. Of these there are only 15 women, accounting for about 2%. This number is extremely low, compared with the number of female public prosecutors and the number of female paralegals, both about 22%. This is primarily because assistant public prosecutors, unlike secretaries who are allowed to work in their hometowns, must take assignments far from home all across the country in order to advance their careers.
In light of the current circumstances, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has begun applying rules for personnel shuffling more flexibly, beginning in FY2016. Specifically, some female assistant public prosecutors have been assigned to districts within commuting range. (Abridged)