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 14: Revisiting Japanese exceptionalism within the context of 'dynamic patent governance': a comparative analysis of the Japanese and European patent system

Esther van Zimmeren


Various countries, in particular the US, France, Germany and Japan, have claimed the term 'exceptional' or have been referred to as 'exceptional' (Kammen 1993). The term has been used both in a negative and in a positive sense, for instance to justify social and political failure (for example, Germany) or to explain moral and political successes (for example, US) (Kammen 1993). Exceptionalism relates to the perception that a certain country, institution or time period does not conform to the norm or to general principles. This perception is based on certain experiences, ideologies, culture or history. The term 'Japanese exceptionalism' has been commonly used in the literature on Japanese politics, social science and the role of law (for example, Matsuda 2003). Claims of Japanese exceptionalism in the legal context have rallied around the question of how Japan has managed to become a very important economic actor on the world scene without an extensive legal infrastructure usually associated with such a status, as was explained in the introduction to this volume. This question prompted an interest in revisiting the idea of Japanese exceptionalism in the context of patent law and its legal infrastructure. The growing importance of knowledge and innovation in our globalized economies has highlighted the crucial role patent law may play in different socio-economic contexts.

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