Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia
- Japanese Legal System in Asia
- Where to Start
- General Information about Japan and their Legal Tradition
- Sources of the Japanese Law
- The Japanese Government System
- Legislative Branch
- Executive Branch
- Judiciary Branch
- Participants in the Administration of Justice
- Civil Law Procedure
- Criminal Law Procedure
- Alternative Dispute Resolution in Japan
- Private Law
- Public Law
- Asia Legal Systems
- Further Resources
- Where to Start
Japanese Legal System in Asia
The Japanese legal modernization was based on the European legal system. At the beginning of Meiji era, the system of Europe – especially the German and French law and judicial systems – was the model of the Japanese court system and legal system.
However, after the Second World War, there was a major legal reform. Constitutional law and criminal procedure law, which are most important for the protection of human rights, were revised by modeling American law. It is a civil law system based on German model; a system that also reflects Anglo-American influence and Japanese traditions, with judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court. Therefore, the Japanese legal system is a Mixed (Civil law/Customary), a hybrid of continental and Anglo-American law.
Japanese Constitutional Law was adopted in 1946 after the Second World War. There are thirty-one articles related to human rights. It also provided for the separation of three powers: Legislative, Judicial and Governmental power.
In Japan, there are two parliaments: the Upper diet (Sangi-In) and lower diet (Shuugi-In).
The Japanese court system is simple because it is not a federal system. There is one Supreme Court, eight high courts and fifty district and family courts. For small crimes (punishable by a fine or lighter punishment) and civil suits (involving claims not exceeding 900,000 yen), the 448 summary courts have jurisdiction.
Supreme Court Rules are not strictly speaking laws. They are the Court’s internal guidelines governing the actions of judges and judicial authorities. On the Supreme Court’s website, these rules are presented for many detailed subjects.
For information about legal research about Japanese law, see Legal Research in Japan.
Where to Start
General Information about Japan and their Legal Tradition
Japan and their People
Historical Background of Japan
Offering a summary of the legal education, including law schools , in Japan.
Development of Japanese Law
Report on the development of the law in Japan.
Structures of Japanese Law
It offers a description of the structures of the law in Japan.
Sources of the Japanese Law
See more about the sources of Law in Japan here.
The Japanese Government System
Study of the Government system in existence in Japan.
Japanese Constitutional Structure
Overview of the Constitutional Structure in Japan.
Read more about the history of the Government System of the country.
General Characteristics of the Constitution
Human Rights in Japan
Scope of the Civil and Human rights in the country.
The legislative branch proposes laws. Find a description of the Legislative Power in Japan here.
Structure of the Japanese Legislative Branch
Observation of the structure of the legislative power in Japan.
Functions and Powers
See more about the role of the legislative power in Japan here.
Read how the Japanese legislative procedures work here.
Supervision of the Executive
Learn how the legislative branch supervises the executive branch.
The executive power proposes laws. Read more.
Head of State in Japan
The head of state of Japan is the formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of Japan.
Head of Government in Japan
The head of government in Japan is the Prime Minister of Japan, the political leader of the government of Japan.
Japanese Council of Ministers
See information about the Cabinet Ministers of Japan here.
Japanese Local Governments
Local Organizations of Central Administration
The central administration consists of a number of ministries and other organizations, including local ones. Various departments, offices and divisions are established in each ministry in Japan. See the definition of centralization here.
Outlook of the cities, towns, villages and other communities, including municipal courts (when applicable), and their legal authority in Japan.
The judiciary power interprets and applies laws. Find here a review of the Judicial System in Japan.
Main Features of the Judiciary
Read the most important characteristics of the Judiciary system in Japan here.
Japan Judicial Structure
Report of the Court Organization and Jurisdiction in Japan.
The Courts in Japan may be divided into:
Description of the functioning of high courts in Japan.
Summary of the roles of courts of lesser rank.
Information about rules that influence sentencing in Japan.
Participants in the Administration of Justice
Survey about the players in the Administration of Justice in Japan and other countries.
Information about the impartial administration of justice, the independence and status of the judiciary and other issues related to Judges in Japan.
The role of those government officials who represent, in Japan, legal authorities (often prosecuting criminal actions in Japan and Asia).
The practice of law
More about the practice of law in Japan and Asia.
The legal professions
Practitioners (Lawyers and others)
Learn about the legal role of practitioners, specially lawyers.
Notary-Public in Japan
Overview about Public Notaries practising in Japan.
Court reporter – Clerks
Civil Law Procedure
Outlook of the main features of the Japanese civil process, including:
Pretrial Proceedings in Japan
Information about what pretrial proceedings consist of.
The Trial in Japan
Review of the judicial examinations in civil or criminal actions in Japan.
Overview of the steps of litigation in Japan, the litigator’s role and the types of civil litigation in the country here.
The Effect of the Judgment
Overview of effects and recognition of a valid judgment delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction in Japan.
Legal Remedies in Japan
Appeals – Judicial Review
Description of the Appeals process and the Judicial Review process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions in Japan.
Criminal Law Procedure
The Investigation of Crime
Scope of the investigation of crimes:
The Prosecution of Crime
Criminal Trials in Japan
Laws and rules of the administration of justice when a person has been accused of a crime.
Appeals – Judicial Review
When a party files an appeal, asking to review the case:
Alternative Dispute Resolution in Japan
Method of resolving disputes out-of-court (ADR).
Family Law in Japan
Guide to Marriage Law, Succession Law and other Family Law topics in Japan.
Contract Law in Japan
Tort Law in Japan
Regulating claims by civil wrongs that result in an injury or harm.
Property Law in Japan
Copyright and Industrial Property
Business Law in Japan
Besides commercial law and the law of corporations and other entities, this guide provides comprehensive information about:
- Business Law in General in Japan.
- Law Governing Conduct of Business.
- Laws on Foreign Capital and Investment in Japan, including incentives.
- Regulation of companies, corporations and other business organizations in Japan.
- Private International Conflict of Laws in Japan and Asia.
Criminal Law in Japan
Penal law involves prosecution for a crime in Japan and Asia. Find out more.
Family Law in Japan
Family legal issues including:
- Divorce and separation
- Child protection, custody, support and access
- Property Division
Report of the branches of the Administrative law, including Environmental law.
Overview of the labor law and social security in Japan.
Asia Legal Systems
- The Constitutional Systems and Traditions of Asia.
- Asian history and cultural development.
- Reception of transplanted legal systems in Japan and Asia.
- English Glossary and Dictionary of Selected Legal Terms of Japan
Law Books and Treatises
Japanese legal publishers produce hundreds of new books yearly in Japanese. In addition, Western publishers produce a variety of books on Japanese law in English and other languages.
Court Decisions in English
- Judgments of the Supreme Court, 1952-: This Japanese government website includes some translations and many summaries of cases: http://www.courts.go.jp/english/judgments/index.html
- Supreme Court of Japan: http://www.courts.go.jp/english/
- Hanrei.net. Included are summaries of important law cases and articles and essays on a variety of topics relating to law in Japan, with links to other sites relating the Japanese law: http://hanrei.net/
- Transparency of Japanese Law Project. This Kyushu University-based project provides English translations for many Japanese laws and court decisions. According to the website’s home page, “The Transparency of Japanese Law Project aims to provide legal information on international transactions in Japan to the overseas community by organizing and translating into English, information which includes: overviews of Japanese law, specific Japanese legislation, doctrines, and case law”: http://www.tomeika.jur.kyushu-u.ac.jp/index.html (Home Page)
History of the Japanese Legal System
The Japanese legal tradition has been shaped by many different influences, domestic as well as foreign. More than one different legal system has coexisted in Japan at various points in the long country history. The Portal of Japanese law provides introductory entries about the background and history of the law of the country.
Conclusion about the Legal System of Japan
A good comprehension of the Japanese legal system requires knowledge and skill in a number of disciplines. The Japanese system itself is the result of developments in law, economy, politics, sociological change and the theories which feed all these bodies of knowledge. The law or Japan may be relevant in a foreign jurisdiction court proceeding involving international transactions. The Knowledge of the Japanese traditions and its legal institutions allows a good understanding of the Japanese law, its institutions and processes and sets the Japanese law and system in a social context.
This guide introduces some of the main procedural and substantive Japanese principles, with a more detailed treatment of resources in the major subject areas of the Japanese law, with access to primary materials.
The general reader and students may learn some basic legal concepts and principles of the Japanese law, to explain how the Japanese legal system operates, and to provide a sense of how the systems within Japan have evolved historically in Japan from its origins.
A globally focused guide like this site, including the legal concepts and principles of Asia, cannot
avoid taking many culture-specific elements into account.
About the Author
Salvador Trinxet Llorca is a law writer, professor and lawyer specialized in comparative and international law.
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References and Further Reading
- Japanese Legal System (2nd ed.)
- Japanese Law (2nd ed.)
- Japanese Law in Context: Readings in Society, the Economy, and Politics
- Comparative law in a global context : the legal systems of Asia and Africa, Werner Menski
- Asian legal systems: law, society, and pluralism in East Asia, Poh-Ling Tan
- Philanthropy and law in Asia: a comparative study of the nonprofit legal systems in ten Asia Pacific societies, Thomas Silk
- Law and legal institutions of Asia: traditions, adaptations and innovations, E Ann Black; Gary F Bell
- Law, capitalism and power in Asia: the rule of law and legal institutions, Kanishka Jayasuriya
- Asia-Pacific legal development, Douglas M Johnston and Gerry A Ferguson
- Modern legal systems cyclopedia, Kenneth R Redden and William Emerson Brock
- Constitutionalism in Asia : Asian views of the American influence, Lawrence Ward Beer
- The judicialization of politics in Asia, Björn Dressel
- East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures
- Law, Capitalism and Power in Asia : The Rule of Law and Legal Institutions
- Doing Business in Asia (updated regularly)
- Copyright Law and the Information Society in Asia
- Insolvency Law in East Asia
- Intellectual Property Law in Asia
- A Legal Guide to Doing Business in the Asia-Pacific
- EHS Law Bulletin Series (updated regularly)
- Basic Japanese Laws
- Commercial Laws of the World: Japan
- Constitutional Law: Japan (updated regularly)
- Corporations and Partnerships: Japan (updated regularly)
- Cyber Law : Japan (updated regularly)
- Doing Business in Japan (updated regularly)
- Essentials of Japanese Patent Law : Cases and Practice (Kluwer, 2006)
- Family and Succession Law: Japan
- Insurance Law: Japan
- Japanese Contract and Anti-Trust Law: A Sociological and Comparative Study
- Japanese Employment and Labor Law (2nd ed.)
- Law and Investment in Japan : Cases and Materials (2nd ed.)
- Social Security Law: Japan
- Tax Laws of the World: Japan
- Asia-Pacific Development Journal
- Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
- Asian Law Journal
- Journal of the Japanese and International Economies
- Columbia Journal of Asian Law