Japan’s Civil Law System
Japan’s Civil Law System
The purpose of civil law is to resolve non-criminal disputes. These disagreements may occur over the meaning of contracts, divorce, child custody, property ownership, either personal, or property damage. Civil courts are a place where decisions can be made to solve problems peacefully. The goal of a civil court is to provide legal remedies that ultimately solve problems. Civil law can be based on state or federal statute or a ruling by the court. In Japan, the different types of civil cases are civil litigation cases, civil conciliation cases, civil execution cases, and bankruptcy cases (Judicial Reform Council, 1999). The Japanese culture view courts as a last resort. They look down on legal contracts and formal written agreements. The Japanese prefer to settle disagreements privately and avoid public embarrassment. Each party must work out disputes between themselves. In accidents, arbitrators are used to determine fault and declare what should be done to settle the claim. Compared to the United States, the number of lawyers in Japan is relatively small.
However, in 2000 Japan’s attitude toward civil lawsuits began to change. This came about when employees began demanding compensation and rewards for work they had done for their companies. These companies looked to their competitors in other countries to seek answers to these problems. Japanese companies then copied the designs of these other companies in hopes of preventing their employees from filing suits. Many of these cases settle in American courts. Awards in Japanese courts are generally smaller than in the United States. Japan’s civil courts are fairly uniform and predictable, so parties are more willing to accept a deal and avoid the courtroom (Facts & Details, 2010).
According to CRNJapan (2009) the core of Japanese statutory law includes the so-called “Six Codes” (Â ropp). The six codes consist of: 1.
The Civil Code (Â Minp, 1896)
The Code of Civil Procedure (Minji-sosh, 1996)
The Penal Code (Â Keih, 1907)
The Commercial Code (Â Shh, 1899)
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Â Keiji-sosh-h, 1948)
The Constitution of Japan (Nippon-koku-kenp, 1946)
According to OKUYAMA, SATO, and KASPER (1997), in June 1996, a legislation to reform the civil procedure in Japan passed the Diet and became law. The reform was the first comprehensive change in the civil procedure since 1926 and will involve extensive amendments to the entire Code and related laws. The reform took effect January 1, 1998. The first Code of Civil Procedure was promulgated as part of an intensive effort to build a modern Japan. The Code was modeled after the German Code, which was enacted only 13 years earlier in 1977. Since then two important reforms occurred, both influenced by the conclusion of a worldwide conflict. One took place in 1926, as the result of an effort by the Japanese Government to follow the lead set by a post World War I Austria in adopting a new Code of Civil Procedure. The other reform occurred after World War II under the occupation of the Allied Forces. The first reform was comprehensive and covered almost all aspects of the Code. Although the second added some elements of American jurisprudence and placed an emphasis on the adversarial system, the basic approach to the Code that had been taken in the 1926 reform remained unchanged.
It is normally true that, “the customary unwillingness to file a lawsuit and to option to a lawyer continues strong, and most proceedings are still insignificant when considered by American standards” the proportion is quite astounding. For instance, it has been reckoned that the, “number of civil suits per capita in Japanese courts is between one-tenth and one-twentieth of the number in common-law countries.” Not only is it very low but as industrial capitalism booms, the rate of litigation have been dropping: litigation “has been...
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