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The Changing Role of Law in Japan

The Changing Role of Law in Japan

Empirical Studies in Culture, Society and Policy Making

Edited by Dimitri Vanoverbeke, Jeroen Maesschalck, David Nelken and Stephan Parmentier

The Changing Role of Law in Japan offers a comparative perspective on the changing role of law in East Asia, discussing issues such as society, cultural values, access to the legal system and judicial reform. This innovative book places Japan in the wider context, juxtaposed with Europe, rather than the US, for the first time.

Chapter 15: Rule of law and human rights in the context of the EU-Japan relationship: are both the EU and Japan really sharing the same values?

Takao Suami

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, asian politics and policy, law - academic, asian law, politics and public policy, asian politics, public policy


It is widely believed that Japan's legal culture is quite different from that in Europe in many respects. Nevertheless, it is often underlined that both the European Union (the EU) and Japan share the same values and principles such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. There is no doubt that those values and principles were born in Europe and constitute common values in today's Europe. Most of the Japanese people believe without any serious examination that Japan is sharing the same values with Europe. This is because they know that those values were imported into Japan from Europe in the late nineteenth century and in particular after the Second World War. Therefore, it is quite natural for them that the concepts of those values in Japan must be the same as those in Europe. However, the European people may have some doubts about whether or not Japan has actually upheld the same values. As a recent excellent research on essential elements of European and United States constitutionalism indicates, even in the context of the US-Europe relationship, a change of emphasis has appeared from their similarities to their difference after the end of the Cold War. Accordingly, it makes sense that a comparative analysis on fundamental values is also made in the context of the EU-Japan relationship.

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