Sources of Japanese Law

Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

Sources of Japanese Law in Asia

Sources of the Japanese Law

Summary of the sources of Law in Japan.

Historical Background

More about the history of the Japanese law here.

Enacted Law in Japan

Read more about the legislation in Japan.

  • The Japanese Constitution

Learn more about the Constitution of Japan.

  • Japan Codes and Statutes

Survey of Japanese Codes and Statutes.

  • Japan Statutory Decrees

Outline of the Japan Statutory Decrees.

  • Japan Regulations

Scope of the Regulations enacted in Japan.

  • Japan By-Laws

Observation about the By-Laws in existence in Japan.

Customary Law

Learn more about the customary law of Japan.

Case Law as a Source of Law

Analysis of the Case Law in Japan.

Precedents in Japan

Evaluation of the role of Precedents in the Japanese legal system.

Doctrine in Japan

Review of the legal Doctrine in Japan.

International sources of law

See more about the international sources of law in Japan and Asia, including International Treaties.

Official Legal Sources

Hierarchy and Source of Law:

•Constitution: May 3, 1947 is the day the post-World War II Constitution became effective
•Treaties and International Agreements
•Codes and Laws/well-established customs
•Cabinet Orders
•Ministry Ordinances
•Ministry Notifications

The Judicial decisions which are regarded as important, are compiled and codified. Like in many court systems, the judgments of the Supreme Court are considered to be binding on lower courts, being their decisions very influential in the lower courts.

“Japanese law is primarily based on codified laws. Unlike the Anglo-American system, statute law plays the primary role in the Japanese system. Major statutes which set out the basic legal framework in a certain area are denoted as codes. There are six major Codes: the Constitution, the Civil Code, the Criminal Code, the Commercial Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Code of Civil Procedure. Statutory laws, delegated legislation, international treaties, judge-made law, circulars (tsutatsu), administrative guidance, local regulations, and customary law are discussed.”(1)

Official Gazette of Japan: Kanp?

Laws must be promulgated after they are passed by the Diet. The emperor promulgates it by publishing them via Kanp?. There is no official version of codified laws.

The last 5 days of Kanp? is available for general public at the National Printing Bureau’s Web site. All Kanp? information since May 3, 1947 can be searched for people who pay monthly fees at the National Printing Bureau’s website.


1. The Sources of Law, Japanese Law (3rd. ed), Hiroshi Oda (2009)

See Also

Japanese Legal System
Indian Legal System
Hong Kong Legal System
Bangladesh Legal System

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