Democratizing the law in Japan

Authored by: Jonathan David Marshall

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics

Print publication date:  February  2011
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415551373
eBook ISBN: 9780203829875
Adobe ISBN: 9781136818387


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Since the late 1990s, Japan’s legal system has changed as a result of changes in Japan’s economy and society as well as reforms to the postwar legal order, including changes to the system of legal training and to criminal trials. These changes have the potential to “democratize” Japanese law, in the sense that democratization is an ongoing process of broadening public participation and bringing the state into a greater degree of consultation with the society it governs. 1 Lawmakers, jurists, and interest groups have attempted to democratize the law by expanding the bar, increasing lay participation in criminal legal processes, and giving more scope to public intervention in administrative decision making. Changes to Japan’s legal system have been incremental, and the reforms limited, but law, legal practitioners, and courts have the potential to play a larger role in Japanese society in the coming decade than they did during Japan’s postwar democratization and era of rapid economic growth.

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