Sunday, October 25, 2009

Five Random Things on Japan 7

1. In the Tokugawa Shogunate era it was generally believed by the bakufu government that laws should be kept secret - that it would be dangerous if the public knew the laws. When Japan opened its doors to the west, it adopted the German system of laws.

2. The Japanese prefer arbitration and compromise (wakai) to legal recourse, and there is strong pressure from the courts for people and corporations to reach out-of-court settlements.

3. The longest civil case in court led by the same individual took place in Japan. It lasted 32 years. Professor Saburo Ienaga challenged the Japanese Ministry of Education over their censorship of his history text book. Begun in 1965, a verdict was finally handed down in 1997.

4. Police officers rarely go to court in Japan. The information they gather on a criminal case is turned over to a prosecutor, and the court does not require their personal appearance.

5. The Japanese have an extremely small number of lawyers compared to other countries, roughly one lawyer for every 8,000 people. Lawyers almost never have private practices nor are their services generally available to regular citizens. The bar exam in Japan restricted to but a very few who completed undergraduate education from becoming lawyers (having a 2-3% pass rate from world war 2 until around 2003). The Japanese system is and has been undergoing changes for the last several years to get more lawyers and allow more people to pass the bar exams.

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