Course Syllabus

2017 250 Japanese law and society

[Lecture Course Basic Information]

Lecturer: A Harada
Other Lecturers:
Course Type: Seminar
Semester: Fall
Year: M1&M2
Course Periods: Thu 3
Credits: 2
Whether mandatory or not:
Classroom: -


Outline of Lecture Course This seminar provides students opportunities to learn and discuss the actual functioning of Japanese law and legal system in its social context. This semester we are focusing on the reality of legal resolution of private disputes in Japan. Lecturer suggests reading materials (law articles) for each session. Topics may include, but not limited to;
A. Reluctant litigants? Legacy of Kawashima theory
B. Socio-legal process of dispute resolution―different strategies in different areas
(1) automobile accidents, (2) environmental pollution, (3)neighborhood noise disputes, (4) product liability (5) family disputes etc.
C. Court procedure for civil disputes
(1) Analysis of the Japanese judiciary, (2) Roles of judge and parties in civil procedure, (3) Small claims litigation/mediation

Course Objectives Each student picks one topic or more, according to the number of participants, prepares handout that briefly describes what is argued in the material and his or her own opinion, and presents it for class discussion. Students other than the presenter must read materials in advance and actively participate in discussion. Through such efforts, students are expected to obtain basic knowledge and insights on the reality of the Japanese legal system.
Course Materials/Supplementaries

Discussion Topics and Reading Materials

I . Reluctant Litigants? Legacy of Kawashima’s Theory on Japanese non-litigiousness

1. Japanese attitude toward law and litigation 

Takeyoshi Kawashima, “Dispute Resolution in Contemporary Japan,” Arthur von Mehren (ed.), Law in Japan: The Legal Order in a Changing Society, Harvard University Press, 1963, pp.41-72.

2. Criticism to attitude model: Institutions 

John Owen Haley, “The Myth of the Reluctant Litigant,” Journal of Japanese Studies Vol.4, No.2 (1978), pp. 359-390.

II. Socio-legal process of dispute resolution—different strategies in different areas

1. Automobile Accidents 

Takao Tanase, “The Management of Disputes: Automobile Accident Compensation in Japan,” Law and Society Review, Vol. 24, No. 3 (1990), pp.651-692.

2. Neighborhood Noise Disputes 

Mark D. West, “The Resolution of Karaoke Disputes: The Calculus of Institutions and Social Capital,” Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (1995) pp. 301-337. .

3. Product Liability 

Luke Nottage and Yoshitaka Wada, “Japan’s New Product Liability ADR Centers: Bureaucratic, Industry, or Consumer Informalism?” Zeitschrift für Japanisches Recht, Nr. 6 (1998), pp. 40-81.

4. Medical Malpractice

Eric Feldman, “Law, Society, and Medical Malpractice Litigation in Japan,” 8 Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 2006, pp.257-284.

5. Family Disputes

Masayuki Murayama, “Does a Lawyer Make a Difference? Effects of a Lawyer on Mediation Outcome in Japan,” 13 International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 1999, pp. 52-77.

6. Compensation for Environmental Pollution Victims

Koichiro Fujikura, “Litigation, Administrative Relief, and Political Settlement for Pollution Victim Compensation: Minamata Mercury Poisoning after Fifty Years,” Daniel H. Foote (ed), Law in Japan: A Turning Point, University of Washington Press, 2007, pp.384-403.

III. Court procedure for civil disputes

1. The Japanese Judiciary 

John O Haley, “The Japanese Judiciary: Maintaining Integrity, Autonomy, and the Public Trust,” Daniel H. Foote (ed), Law in Japan: A Turning Point, University of Washington Press, 2007, pp.99-133.

2. Prewar Practice and Postwar Reform—A Judge’s View

Kohji Tanabe, “The Processes of Litigation: An Experiment with the Adversary System,” Arthur von Mehren (ed.), Law in Japan: The Legal Order in a Changing Society, Harvard University Press, 1963, pp. 73-110.

3. Adversary System 

Yasuhei Taniguchi, “The Development of an Adversary System in Japanese Civil Procedure,” Daniel H. Foote (ed), Law in Japan: A Turning Point, University of Washington Press, 2007, pp.80-98.

4. Small Claims Litigation/ Mediation

Aya Yamada, “Everyday Disputes at Summary Courts: Are Community Mediators and Warm Ways of Resolution Ready for Litigious Parties?,” Harry N. Scheiber and Laurent Mayali (eds), Emerging Concepts of Rights in Japanese Law, Robbins Collection, School of Law, 2007, pp.73-91.

5. Legal Education

Riles, Annelise, and Takashi Uchida. "Reforming Knowledge-A Socio-Legal Critique of the Legal Education Reforms in Japan." 1 Drexel Law Review, 2009, pp.3-51.


Assessment Grades will be based on the quality of presentation, contribution to class discussion, and after-presentation report.
Other Notes  For the convenience of the course preparetion, the lecturer asks students to contact her ( by October 3.


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