Legal Reform in Contemporary Japan
Eric A. Feldman
University of Pennsylvania Law School
U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 07-17
EMERGING RIGHTS IN JAPANESE LAW, Harry Scheiber and Laurent Mayali, eds., Berkeley: UC Press, 2007
In this chapter I offer a preliminary assessment of a quickly moving target - legal reform and its impact on rights in Japan. Although a broad consensus has emerged among interested parties that at least some degree of reform is desirable, there is significant disagreement about the goals of reform, and also about the likelihood that it will achieve certain objectives. Some commentators believe that the Japanese legal system is on the cusp of a "revolution" that will shore up long-neglected rights and create new entitlements. Others predict that the consequences of reform will be modest; and they despair that aggrieved individuals will remain unable to obtain legal representation, while Japanese companies will be at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace. This essay charts a middle course. It notes that the source of many of Japan's new legal institutions is the United States and Europe, but demurs from the view that the world's legal systems are converging. Change is afoot in Japan, it argues, but its consequences are likely to be more muted, and have a different complexion, than many have suggested. Rather than producing a revolution in the law, current reforms will lead to an incremental shift, with the Japanese legal system remaining a distinctive blend of indigenous process and practices influenced by Western doctrines and dispositions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Japan, Japanese, legal system reform, goals, indigenous process and practices
JEL Classification: K40, K49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 18, 2007
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