* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”
The phrase “yameken” is an abbreviation of the words 検事 (kenji, member of the public prosecutor’s office (検察庁, kensatsucho)) and やめた (yameta, to quit). Quite literally it refers to someone who has quit their role as a public prosecutor. More specifically, it almost always refers to someone who has passed the bar exam after quiting and become a lawyer. I guess it is a little like an elite version of “datsusara” (脱サラ) except it is a lot less common.
The concept is novel as the majority of people who go to work for the kensatsucho are bound to silence and often work there until they retire. It’s a well paid and well respected job so it is generally controversial for them to seek a career elsewhere – let alone when you consider that they have to study for the bar exam at the age of 40+. Those that don’t succeed at the bar exam have been known to seek a career on television by offering political commentary on large criminal cases.
Example of usage:
It was depressing watching that small-town yameken lawyer talk about Jail as though it was part of every day life.
Related vocab: 「ヤメ判」 and 「ヤメ警」