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Australian Journal of Asian Law

Abstract from Volume 4 No 1 (2002)

'Perceptions of the Current State of the Japanese Legal System': Interview with Koji Sato, Chairman of Japan's Judicial Reform Council

Carol Lawson has a BA (Asian Studies), LLB Australian National University, MA with Distinction (Advanced Japanese) University of Sheffield.
Simon Thornley is a Solicitor (England & Wales) and Associate Professor of Law, Okayama University, Japan.

Japan's Judicial Reform Council (JRC) was established as a deliberative committee of the Cabinet in July 1999. This interview with Koji Sato, the JRC Chairman, was published just over a year before the JRC delivered its Final Report on 12 June 2001. It foreshadows many of the themes in official discourse and public debate about a series of legal reforms that are the most dramatic that Japan has experienced in 50 years. Professor Sato's views as Chairman of the JRC are significant because they express publicly deep dissatisfaction with the structural weaknesses of Japan's legal system, which he identifies as including a hierarchical judicial career structure, case overloads, the absence of a jury system and fully developed doctrines of contempt or equity, and the need to involve lay members of the public in the judicial process.

(2002) 4(1) Asian Law 76

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