Sunday, February 3, 2013

How to Research Japanese Law in English

Some of you are interested in researching Japanese law or legal aspects of Japanese society either for fun or for the academic purpose.

Of course, there are bunch of resources written in Japanese available in libraries and also on line. And even though there are sites which offer search of Japanese papers and books in English, most of the results are those written in Japanese.
What should you do, if you cannot read Japanese? One way is to hire a Japanese lawyer. But it may not be feasible because of the cost (see below if your research is purely academic). Another way is to use a translation service such as Google Translate. However, especially in the legal area, the automatic translation is, in general, not very helpful. Another way is to use resources written in English. The following are a non-exclusive list of resources you can refer to for researching Japanese law in English.

1. Books
Curtis J. Milhaupt, J. Mark Ramseyer, and Mark D. West "The Japanese Legal System" is one of the few case books on Japanese law. This case book is used in Harvard Law School's Japanese law class. (One of the authors, Professor Ramseyer wrote a book entitled "Japanese Law," but it was published in 2001.)
Also, Hiroshi Oda's "Japanese Law" is an objective and succinct summary of Japanese law.

2. Laws and Regulations
Although there are books with translations of Japanese laws and regulations, there is a site run by the Japanese government which translates many laws and regulations called "Japanese Law Translations." 
Note that the government put a disclaimer: "Only the original Japanese texts of the laws and regulations have [sic?] legal effect, and the translations are to be used solely as reference material to aid in the understanding of Japanese laws and regulations."

3. Cases and Court Opinions
In order to reach the rich world of Japanese court opinions, I recommend using Japanese legal databases (e.g., Hanrei Hisho, Daiichi-Hoki, LexisNexis Japan, and Westlaw Japan).
However, there are English summaries of more than 1000 supreme court case available on Supreme Court's site.

4. Journals
Australian Network for Japanese Law 

Kobe University Law Review
Social Science Japan News Letter 

5. Other Online Resoures
Transparency of Japanese Law Project 

Temple University Japan Resources 
Japan Focus 

6. Assistance for Purely Academic Research
If you have a serious and purely academic reason to research Japanese law (such as if you are a Law School Student writing a paper on Japanese law), contact me through the contact form on the right column. I may be able to be of your help. I already assisted a student of a highly reputable American law school, when she researched on the Japanese legal aid system.  (I do not intend to charge you anything as long as it is purely academic, but contact me with your real name with your school name to show that it is not commercial research assistance. Whether I will assist you or not is solely on my discretion and I may not be able to assist you when, for example, I am busy.)

"IT Law issues in Japan" only provides general information about Japanese information technology law and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. You should first obtain the advice of professional legal counsel who is qualified in Japan before acting or refraining from acting based on this blog.

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