Wigmore: The Japanese Connection

Kenneth W. Abbott

Arizona State University


Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 10, 1981

John Henry Wigmore was a preeminent scholar in the law of his own land, but he also thought about the law and legal problems on a global scale. This article discusses Wigmore’s research in Japanese law, his work in comparative law generally and his interest in international law and institutions.

In 1889, Wigmore was asked to serve for three years as a professor of law at a Japanese university. He took this as an opportunity to compare the process of legal development in the West with that in Tokugawa-era Japan. His research unearthed a goldmine of information regarding Japanese legal history and he began a large translation and editing project which was not completed until after his death. His early Japanese connection certainly contributed to the formation of his view of the law and legal problems on a global scale.

Although comparative law was never the focus of Wigmore’s scholarship, his interest in comparative and historical studies stayed with him all his life. As this article discusses, Wigmore made important contributions to comparative law and showed others the fascination and utility of the study of other legal systems. He supported international institutions and sought to promote interchange and cooperation among lawyers from around the world. He taught a generation of students about the emerging international order. In all of these things, Wigmore's vision was far ahead of its time.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 7

Keywords: comparative law, international law, international institutions

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Date posted: May 29, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Abbott, Kenneth W., Wigmore: The Japanese Connection (1981). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 10, 1981. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1410364

Contact Information

Kenneth Wayne Abbott (Contact Author)
Arizona State University ( email )
Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
480-965-5917 (Phone)
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