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Although a unified regime was gradually established and Japan evolved into a cohesive society by the 8th century, the law was not codified. The second transplant in codifying the law was in the 19th century during the Meiji Restoration. As imperial rule was restored, following the feudal regime, the Meiji Government enacted various codes following Prussian and French models and the Constitution of Imperial Japan was enacted in The third transplant was after World War II.

The democratization was deployed in Japan by U. Allied Occupation, and the new Japanese Constitution was enacted in The constitution consists of thirty-one articles, and three principles of the constitutions are 1 the sovereignty vested in the Japanese people Article 1 , 2 fundamental human rights Article 11 , and 3 Pacifism Article 9.

The Japanese Constitution also grants a legal anchoring for women's rights in Article 14, which institutes legal equality of opportunity for men and women in relations between citizens and the State. The Japanese legal system is based on the civil law system, following the model of European legal systems, especially those of Germany and France. Japan established its legal system when imperial rule to Japan was restored in —the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Constitution was the organic law of the Japanese empire in effect from to The current Japanese legal system is a hybrid of continental and American law.

The first tier of courts is the summary courts which deal with minor criminal cases and civil cases for less than 1,,yen claims. The second is the district courts, the principal courts of first instance, which deal with most of civil, criminal and administrative law cases.

Since all district courts and some of their branches have held criminal proceedings with lay assessors saiban-in for the most serious criminal offenses involving possible sentences of death or life imprisonment. There are 50 district and family courts with additional branches. In addition to adjudicate cases, district courts, family courts, and summary courts also offer mediation services. There are eight High Courts. There also exists the Intellectual Property High Court. There is one Supreme Court with rule-making power.

Independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by the Constitution.

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Most judges are virtually life-time employees of a national governmental bureaucracy. The judgments of the Supreme Court are considered to be binding on lower courts. The decisions of the high courts are very influential in the lower courts. Judicial decisions regarded as being important, are compiled and codified. Judiciary statistics can be found on the Courts in Japan website.

Legislative power resides in the National Diet and is the only law-making body in Japan. Japanese politics encompasses the multi-party system. Many bills are drafted by government agencies and submitted through the Cabinet and posted on their websites. Also, Diet members can draft and submit a bill if there are a certain number of cosponsors. The bills since the nd Diet Session can be found on the House of Representatives web site.


Statutes are promulgated after they are passed by the Congress. Minutes of each House and committee are searchable at the website supported by the National Diet Library. Since the Freedom of Information Act was passed in May , numerous resources for governmental information has become available on the Web. Before the legislation was enacted, many governmental sites had started to provide their information via the Internet. On the web, there are numerous resources for government information such as current laws , cabinet orders , and ministry ordinances , white papers , and statistical data.

E-Gov is a portal website of government information administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Accumulated Government documents can be searched on the site of the Government Printing Office.

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As one of the objectives of the Justice System Reform in Japan, English translations of Japanese laws have become more available since , although the definitive version of Japanese law is in the Japanese text, and there are no official English translations of Japanese laws.

Also see Japanese Law Translation. Except for Supreme Court cases, judgments are reported at a small percentage, and an unreported judgment can be obtained by requesting a copy in person at the record office of each court. Lower court decisions of intellectual property cases and labor law cases have been available since July The case naming method is different in Japan. There is no actual case name system.


The name of the court and date of the judgment are generally used to search a case. Names of corporations may be used for the title of the case name. Official case reports in Japanese language from the Supreme Court and other lower courts in the last three months, as well as case reports from the Intellectual Property High Court in the last one month are also found at the Saikin no Saibanrei Website for recent judgment reports. Several court report journals are published. Each issue has case interpretation and analysis, the essential elements of the court decisions, and comments.

The commercial databases have played a vital role in Japanese case law research because cases are not fully published. In addition to Westlaw Japan and LexisNexisJP , there are three more full text databases with different functionalities. The text of these databases is in Japanese language. There is an English version of the citation form published by the University of Washington in entitled Form of Citation of Japanese Legal Materials.

Another important resource is the scheme for Romanization. The Library of Congress has a list of Romanization. Also, the Japanese era names and conversion website will be a useful tool.

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Because of scholarly electronic publishing initiatives in Japan, many universities make their law reviews accessible through their academic institutional repository program. Institutional repositories such as JAIRO are reaping both short term and ongoing benefits for universities and legal scholars around the world. Articles in law reviews digitized in their institutional repository on the Web are searchable through Google Scholar and there is a link to the CiNii Articles website. CiNii Articles produced by the National Institute of Informatics provides links to an online catalog of over 1, academic institutions in Japan and access to over twelve million books and journal titles, and is a gateway to academic articles in the National Diet Library's Japanese Periodicals Index Database.

Asahi Shinbun has also had a full-text commercial database for their news since The legal blogosphere in the United States has been active for quite some time; however, law-related blogs are a relatively new media for reporting Japanese legal news. Japanese Law Blog garners current news and information about Japanese law.

The number of lawyers and law professors' blogs is small at this time.

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Blogs have become an increasingly popular and powerful resource for finding Japanese law-related information, Global Legal Monitor Japan. Numerous publishers produce law books including treatises, dictionaries, and journals in Japan. Some legal publishers have started to provide their book catalogs online. Some publishers in Japan distribute CDs containing cases that have been published in print case reports, and they also support online databases similar to Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Legal Research Guides Outside of Japan. At the time of his decease, Chapters xi. The work was written between the years and In the preface to the first volume, mention is made of a quantity of unarranged matter as being in existence, relating to the various forms of government, and their respective degrees of eligibility. Upon examination, however, it was found to comprise a much more extensive range than that above indicated, and I therefore determined to form it into a distinct Book, the three volumes of the Code itself, as arranged by Mr Bentham, forming a second Book.

The MSS. The plan adopted in arranging and classifying them in their present order, was,—to incorporate into one chapter all that related to the same subject-matter; to place those chapters first, which were of most general application, and to make those follow, which discussed more particularly the leading provisions of the Code itself, and constituted as it were, a general Rationale to the whole work. The introductory chapters on Law in general, and the various branches of law, were apparently designed by Mr Bentham to give to the reader of the Constitutional Code, a clear and comprehensive idea of a complete body of law, or as he called it, the Pannomion.

With this view therefore they have been inserted, although, in his early works, some of the subjects to which they refer have been already discussed. I would refer in particular to the Principles of the Civil Code, edited by Dumont. In several instances it will appear that the same ground has been travelled over more than once. This was, however, necessary, in order to render the argument in each instance complete: for it will be observed that many of the Chapters constitute in themselves distinct and independent Essays: such, for example, are the masterly analyses of Good and Bad Rule, Corruption, and Factitious Honour.