Japan like many European nations was originally run on a feudal system, with warlords in control. The modernisation of Japan in the nineteenth century, then, saw penal codes and codes of criminal instruction introduced, which were based on the French model. Thus, set punishments were established for particular crimes. Individual guilt was recognised, whereas formerly whole families could be found guilty via association. Post WW2, reforms of the Japanese constitution were initiated and the rights of the accused in criminal procedures were recognised and guaranteed. The investigation of crimes was shifted from the judiciary to the police. Understanding the Japanese legal system is easier when its history of evolution is comprehended.
Low Rates of Lawyers in Japan
The Japanese legal set-up is based on the civil law system. The National Diet is the legislative body in Japan. The judicial structure follows a Supreme Court and various lower courts beneath that. There are High Courts, District Courts, Family Courts and Summary Courts. Judges are, employees of the national government bureaucracy. Japan has a relatively low rate of lawyers per capita of population. Lawyers in Japan are employees of the Ministry of Justice and there is only one law school in the whole of the country. Thus, they are not the litigious nation that the US is.
Lawyers Employed by the State in Japan
It is interesting to compare a country like Australia and its lawyers to Japan. Click here for more to peruse the list of services provided by a typical Australian law firm. It is much harder to become a lawyer in Japan than it is in Australia. Lawyers do not have to deal with the added complexity of running their own businesses, as many choose to in countries like the US and Australia. In some ways this makes the Japanese lawyer a purer beast of the law. However, it also links them far more closely with the state than lawyers in the UK, US and Australia.
Non-litigiousness has been identified by some legal commentators as in accord with the traditional Tokugawa values. Put simply, more of its citizens take responsibility for their own actions via their moral code. Whereas in the west, following the example set by the dominant US culture, everyone else is to blame and let’s make a buck out of it. Japanese companies do not employ lawyers but, rather, those with an understanding of the law. It makes for a very different world.