The Changing Role of Law in Japan
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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.
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Chapter 5: Reforms of the judiciary in Japan at the start of the twenty-first century: initial assessment of an ongoing process

Dimitri Vanoverbeke and Takao Suami


The reforms of the judicial system in Japan are based on recommendations issued by the Justice System Reform Council (hereafter 'the Council') in June 2001. The Council was established in July 1999 under the prime minister's cabinet and was composed of 13 members from various backgrounds. It was the key organization for waging fundamental reforms of the justice system. The process of the reforms too was a major departure from the post-1945 period when all policy issues on the justice system were discussed and determined exclusively within the closed circle of the legal profession, namely by representatives of active attorneys, prosecutors and judges (Miyazawa 1999). Active members of the legal profession were minorities in the Council. After intensive discussions extending for about two years, the Council issued its final report in June 2001. The recommendations were swiftly enforced and resulted in an overhaul of the justice system in one of the world's major economies. More than one decade later an assessment can be made as to the effects and flaws of the judicial reforms. Are the reforms a successful departure from Japan's traditional legal culture?

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