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Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008

'Educational' package tour of U.S. jury system falls flat

Staff writer

A travel package featuring an educational tour of the jury system in the United States has so far failed to attract enough applicants to actually take off, a Japan Airlines Corp. spokesman said Friday.

With the lay judge system set to start in May, JAL-affiliated travel agency JALPAK Co. was trying to lure those interested in learning more about the upcoming judicial transition with a five-day package tour to New York.

Under the lay judge system, six citizens will join three judges in criminal trials and, if they find the accused guilty, hand down a sentence.

"We've planned on 16 departure dates between October and March, with the minimum passenger count being six. So far we haven't been able to attract enough people to launch any flights," said JALPAK spokesman Toshiya Kadomae, adding this was a "new attempt" at target marketing for the travel agency.

The tour, priced between ¥288,600 and ¥328,600, includes a seminar by a New York attorney well versed in criminal cases — with Japanese interpretation — and three hours watching trials in a courtroom, as well as another two days of sightseeing in the city.

JALPAK said it plans to direct its marketing efforts toward law school students and lawyers, and hopes public interest in the subject will increase as the new system nears.

"We'll have to wait and see if this kind of thing works. . . . We did receive an application from a group of 10 lawyers for a March departure date, but it hasn't been confirmed yet," the spokesman said.

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