Who Rules Japan?


Who Rules Japan?

Popular Participation in the Japanese Legal Process

9781849804103 Edward Elgar Publishing
Edited by Leon Wolff, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University, Japan, Luke Nottage, Professor of Comparative and Transnational Business Law, University of Sydney Law School, and Special Counsel, Williams Trade Law and Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Western Australia, Australia
Publication Date: June 2015 ISBN: 978 1 84980 410 3 Extent: 232 pp
The dramatic growth of the Japanese economy in the postwar period, and its meltdown in the 1990s, has attracted sustained interest in the power dynamics underlying the management of Japan’s administrative state. Scholars and commentators have long debated over who wields power in Japan, asking the fundamental question: who really governs Japan? This important volume revisits this question by turning its attention to the regulation and design of the Japanese legal system. With essays covering the new lay-judge system in Japanese criminal trials, labour dispute resolution panels, prison policy, gendered justice, government lawyers, welfare administration and administrative transparency, this comprehensive book explores the players and processes in Japan’s administration of justice.

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The dramatic growth of the Japanese economy in the post-war period, and its meltdown in the 1990s, generated major reform recommendations in 2001 from the Justice System Reform Council aimed at greater civic engagement with law. This timely book examines the regulation and design of the Japanese legal system and contributes a legal perspective to the long-standing debate in Japanese Studies: who governs Japan?

Who Rules Japan? explores the extent to which a new Japanese state has emerged from this reform effort — one in which the Japanese people participate more freely in the legal system and have a greater stake in Japan’s future. Expert contributors from across the globe tackle the question of whether Japan is now a judicial state, upturning earlier views of Japan as an administrative state. The book explores well-known reforms, such as lay participation in criminal justice, but also less well-canvassed topics such as industrial relations, dispute resolution, government lawyers, law within popular culture in Japan, and social welfare and the law. The blend of empiricism, policy analysis, theory and doctrine provides a discerning insight into the impact of the law reform initiatives from the Justice System Reform Council.

Legal academics interested in comparative law broadly and Asian law specifically will find this book an indispensable contribution to the literature, offering a unique insight into the changing Japanese legal system. Students and scholars of Japanese Studies, especially the social sciences, will find clarity in this refreshing legal viewpoint of governance in contemporary Japan.
Critical Acclaim
‘Featuring eight learned contributions from a wide variety of academics, Who Rules Japan?: Popular Participation in the Japanese Legal Process is a seminal work of impressive scholarship that is very highly recommended as a critically important addition to professional, governmental, corporate, and academic library Japanese Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.’
– The Midwest Book Review

‘The book takes a stimulating and fresh look at the classical question: Who rules Japan? Seven highly informative analyses explore to what extent the 2001 judicial reforms have already transformed the Japanese state and paved the way for Japan’s gradual shift from its (in)famous administrative governance model to a judicial state with the “rule of law” at its center and a broader participation of citizens in the various spheres of public life.’
– Harald Baum, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Germany
Contributors: K. Anderson, T. Araki, S. Green, D.T. Johnson, S. Kozuka, C. Lawson, T. Ryan, L. Nottage, S. Shinomiya, L. Wolff


1. Introduction: Who Rules Japan?
Leon Wolff, Luke Nottage and Kent Anderson

2. Judging Japan’s New Criminal Trials: Early Returns from 2009
David T. Johnson and Satoru Shinomiya

3. Popular Participation in Labour Law: The New Labour Dispute Resolution Tribunal
Takashi Araki and Leon Wolff

4. In Defence of Japan: Government Lawyers and Judicial System Reforms
Stephen Green and Luke Nottage

5. Administering Welfare in an Ageing Society
Trevor Ryan

6. Reforming Japanese Corrections: Catalysts and Conundrums
Carol Lawson

7. Competition Law in Japan: The Rise of Private Enforcement by Litigious Reformers
Souichirou Kozuka

8. When Japanese Law Goes Pop
Leon Wolff

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