Course Syllabus

Special Lecture and Seminar (Japanese law and society)

[Lecture Course Basic Information]

Lecturer: HARADA, Ayako
Other Lecturers:
Course Type: Seminar
Semester: Fall
Year: M1&M2
Course Periods: Thu 3
Credits: 2
Whether mandatory or not: None
Classroom: TBD


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.
Textbooks None, but reading materials listed below are provided to the students.
Course Materials/Supplementaries

Discussion Topics and Reading Materials


First Meeting: Orientation


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.

  1. Criticism to attitude (culture) 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 (1) 

Ramseyer, J. Mark, and Minoru Nakazato. "The Rational Litigant: Settlement Amounts and Verdict Rates in Japan." The Journal of Legal Studies 18, no. 2 (1989): 263-90.

2. Automobile Accidents (2)  

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

3. 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.   .

4. 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.

5. Medical Malpractice

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

6.Family Disputes (two articles for one session)

Masayuki Murayama, 2010, “The origins and development of family conciliation in Japan: a political aspect,” Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law, 143-153.

 Ayako Harada, 2019, “Family Reorganization in the Japanese Family Conciliation System: Resolving Divorce Disputes Involving Minor Children,” International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 33, 75–103.

7. 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. Japanese Judiciary and Judicial Reform

  1. Japanese Judiciary and Judicial independence

Frank 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 and Legal Education

Annelise 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.

(Additional Reference) 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.

Assessment Attendance (10%), presentation (30%), class discussion (20%), after-presentation report (40%).
Prerequisites None
Instructions for Out-of-Class Study Read the materials for each class in advance for preparation
Responding to Student Questions At the classroom or upon email appointment.
Other Notes  For the convenience of the course preparetion, students should contact lecturer by email  ( before the first class (on October 8).


Lecture Theme Lecture Course Description Learning outside the class Related page
1 Each session will focus on a paper provided on the list above. The class workwill be generally divided into three parts. Part 1: presentation, Part 2: small group discussion, Part 3: discussion with all the class members. The presenter(s) will organize the discussion. The lecturer make a final remark at the end of session.

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