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 7: Towards an understanding of the 'Japanese' way of dispute resolution: how is it different from the West?

Hiroshi Takahashi


There has been a common recognition among socio-legal academics on the difference between Japan and several Western countries: Japan is not as litigious as these Western countries. Indeed, one of the long enduring debates has been whether the Japanese are reluctant to litigate or not. While there has been intense debate over the question, this formulation of the problem seems to be too ambiguous and general to conduct productive empirical research. This chapter aims to elaborate on the problem so that it can offer accurate guidance for empirical research, and to conduct a case study comparing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) legislation in both the UK and Japan in order to shed light upon the difference as well as similarity in attitudes with regard to dispute resolution between the two countries. While both countries have shared the promotion of ADR as a policy goal since the end of the 1990s, we can observe a subtle but important difference lying behind this policy convergence. Exploring this difference will lead us to a more sophisticated understanding of the role of the law and legal system in both countries.

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