Phoenix Wright as a Microcosm of the Japanese Legal System

A new entry in the latest edition of the always excellent Escapist Magazine uses Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney as an entry point into examining the peculiar Japanese legal system.

The writer notes the similarities between Phoenix Wright constantly battling “seemingly impossible odds” in-game to statistics from Japan which indicate that people charged with a crime are convicted 99% of the time.

Odds are so overwhelmingly stacked against defendants in Japan that one defense attorney in the country described the job as “one of the toughest in the world,” and reportedly only won five cases in over 25 years, which the piece explains, “…isn’t a bad record, many attorneys go their whole careers without winning a case.”

Before going on to further detail the cultural aspects and politics that contribute to such a system—and the changes that are currently trying to be implemented—the author writes:

… the Phoenix Wright games touch on some of the more controversial institutions of the Japanese legal world, such as a powerful and detached prosecutor class, a police force that has lost public confidence, and a dangerous reliance on confessions as the centerpiece of prosecutions. These elements combine to make acquittal nearly impossible and grievous miscarriages of justice almost inevitable.

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