Caution Needed with AI at Trials, Says Japan Top Court Chief

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Supreme Court Chief Justice Saburo Tokura speaks at a press conference at the Supreme Court in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on April 27.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Saburo Tokura has said extra caution is needed in using AI technology such as ChatGPT at trials.

“It is important to improve the efficiency of legal practice by utilizing digital technology,” Tokura said at a press conference on April 27, in the run-up to Constitution Day on May 3. But he stressed that problems could arise if the use of generative AI is not examined from a variety of angles.

“AI processes information according to probability,” he said, “but trials cannot necessarily be entirely handled by such means. The essence of trials, that human judges hand down a judgment, will not change.

“I believe that we need to take a careful approach [in using AI technology], also from the perspective of training the individuals necessary to run trials.”

On the issue of the disposal of court records, including all records of the 1997 case in which children in Kobe were attacked and murdered, he said, “It is hard to claim that the court as a whole managed court records properly, and we are taking this issue seriously.” Tokura indicated his intention to take measures to prevent any such future problems.