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.

Topics include;
A. Reluctant litigants? Legacy of Kawashima theory
B. Socio-legal process of dispute resolution―different strategies in different areas
C. Japanese Judiciary and Judicial Reform

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 (10/12)


①Takeyoshi 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.



  1. Criticism to attitude model: Institutions (10/19)


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


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


  1. Automobile Accidents (10/26)


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



  1. Neighborhood Noise Disputes (11/2)


④Mark 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.   .



  1. Product Liability (11/9)


⑤Luke 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.



  1. Medical Malpractice (11/16)


⑥Eric Feldman, “Law, Society, and Medical Malpractice Litigation in Japan,” 8 Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 2006, pp.257-284.



  1. Family Disputes (11/30)


⑦Masayuki 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.



  1. Compensation for Environmental Pollution Victims (12/7)


⑧Koichiro 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.

  1. Social Movement and Litigation Strategies (12/14)


⑨Robert L. Kidder and Setsuo Miyazawa, “Long-Term Strategies in Japanese Environmental Litigation,” Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 18, No. 4, 1993, pp. 605-627.



III. Japanese Judiciary and Judicial Reform


  1. Japanese Judiciary and Judicial independence (12/21)


⑩Frank K. Upham, “Review: Political Lackeys or Faithful Public Servants? Two Views of the Japanese Judiciary,” Law & Social Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2005, pp. 421-455.


Reviewed Work(s):

Measuring Judicial Independence: The Political Economy of Judging in Japan by J. Mark Ramseyer and Eric B. Rasmusen.

The Spirit of Japanese Law by John Owen Haley and The Japanese Judiciary: Maintaining Integrity, Autonomy, and the Public Trust by John Owen Haley


  1. Judicial Reform (1/11)


⑪ Setsuo Miyazawa, “Successes, Failures, and Remaining Issues of the Justice System Reform in Japan: An Introduction to the Symposium Issue,” 36 Hastings International & Comparative Law Review, 2013, pp.313-347.


  1. Legal Education (1/18)


⑫Annelise Riles and Takashi Uchida. “Reforming Knowledge-A Socio-Legal Critique of the Legal Education Reforms in Japan” Drexel L. Rev. Vol.1, 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, students should contact lecturer by email  ( by October 3.


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