Community and the Law
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Community and the Law

A Critical Reassessment of American Liberalism and Japanese Modernity

Takao Tanase

Edited by Luke Nottage and Leon Wolff

This important book translates seven landmark essays by one of Japan’s most respected and influential legal thinkers. While Takao Tanase concedes that law might not matter as much in Japan as it does in the United States, in a provocative challenge to socio-legal researchers and comparative lawyers, he asks: why should it? The issue, he contends, is not whether law matters to society; it is how society matters to law.
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Chapter 8: Litigation in Japan and the Modernisation Thesis

Takao Tanase


JUDICIAL REFORM AND THE REMODELING OF JAPANESE SOCIETY 1. In June 2001, the Judicial Reform Council (JRC) handed down its Final Report.1 The reforms it proposed were sweeping. It recommended tripling the number of lawyers admitted to practice each year, improved access to justice, and popular participation in civil and criminal trials. The impetus for the JRC recommendations was an acknowledgement by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the business sector that Japan needed to build greater capacity into the Japanese legal system to enhance Japan’s ability to compete in an increasingly globalised economy. The judicial reform process coincided with changing attitudes to law and litigation. The general antipathy to litigation has broken down, as Japanese turn to the courts in greater numbers, filing mass claims against firms for environmental damage and defective blood products as well as individual disputes for medical malpractice and workplace bullying. A spate of legislative initiatives has tackled new and emerging social problems, such as domestic violence and stalking. Never before has law played a more visible role in Japanese society. This represents a major transformation in Japan, especially considering that Japan effectively industrialised without the benefit of law. Such an expanded place for law may also reflect the growing impact of globalisation in an era when, according to a report from the LDP, ‘the world is being united through market principles, freedom and democracy’ (LDP Legal System Investigatory Council, 1997). Even so, each society retains much that is distinctive as well as elements...

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