Judicial Lawmaking and the Influence of Comparative Law
Edited by John O. Haley and Toshiko Takenaka
Chapter 3.7: Goddess of justice without a blindfold: How do Japanese judges treat pro se litigants?
It is often pointed out that Japanese judges exercise strength of initiative over parties in the case management of civil proceedings regardless of the fact that the Japanese Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) does not provide court contempt or any other strong sanctions. In fact, in addition to providing the general authority to control court proceedings, the CCP provides judges with the authority to clarify facts through the questioning of parties and to recommend settlement, and these provisions legitimize the judges’ strong leader - ship in proceedings in Japan. A topic of discourse among practitioners, one explanation for this practice is that there are many cases in which one party or both parties are pro se litigants (a party without a representing attorney), and therefore judges have to exercise strong leadership over the parties so that the proceedings go smoothly and efficiently. There had been, however, no quantitative survey on how Japanese judges actually treated pro se litigants until the Legal Research and Training Institute under the Supreme Court of Japan conducted a survey on pro se litigation for the first time in 2011. While there have been several surveys conducted in Japan about Japanese civil procedure from the litigants’ point of view, the significant feature of this survey was that the respondents were professional judges who were actually handling pro se litigation. The survey collected 285 samples in total and presented the first empirical foothold in the discussion about case management of pro se litigation in Japanese courts.
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