Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 38: Japanese law

Masaki Abe and Luke Nottage


Japan is a densely populated archipelago in North-East Asia. Despite the collapse of an asset bubble in 1990 and the ensuing ‘lost decade’ of stagnant economic growth, Japan enjoys very high per capita national income and remains the third largest economy in the world, after the United States and China. Despite re-opening itself to the world in the mid-19th century, to modernize its economy, society and legal system, Japan has continued to have ambiguous relationships with modernity, ‘the West’, and law itself (Tanase, 2010). Japanese law was formed in the crucible of comparative law, and continues to intrigue comparative lawyers. It borrowed early on from China (Henderson, 1965; Haley, 1991), from continental Europe in the late 19th century (Roehl, 2005), and from Anglo-American law, particularly during Japan’s Occupation following World War II (von Mehren, 1963).

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