Transparency of Japanese Law Project


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INTRODUCTION

A specified field study entitled, “The Transparency and Enrichment of Japanese Laws Concerning International Transactions in the 21st Century—-Doing Cross-Border Business with/in Japan,”also known as the “Transparency of Japanese Law Project,” was selected for the Specified Field Research Project instituted in 2004 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The Transparency of Japanese Law Project aims to provide legal information on international transactions in Japan to the overseas community by organizing and translating into English, information which includes: overviews of Japanese law, specific Japanese legislation,doctrines,and case law (click here for a sample of Japanese Supreme Court Case). The study consists of five sub-fields, which, all-in-all, also covers 11 research groups. These sub-fields are accessible by clicking on the links on this page.
Members of this study wish to express their sincere appreciation to the following institutions for their generous support of this project:
– Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu;
– International Law Association, Japan Branch

OBJECTIVES

  • To set up a general portal to Japanese laws accessible online for users worldwide.
  • To meet the demand for information on Japanese laws to the international community.

1. Introduction

The Transparency of Japanese Law Project aims to provide legal information on international transactions in Japan to the overseas community by organizing and translating information on Japanese legislation, case law, and doctrines into English. As foreign direct investment from overseas (flow base and stock base) has remained relatively low in Japan when compared to other advanced nations, it is hoped that providing relevant information will increase foreign investment in Japan and promote Japan’s international commercial transactions with other countries.

The project also seeks to propose, formulate, and enrich draft legislation, treaties, and bills relating to international transactions and commercial law. To this end, we plan to set up a general portal to Japanese laws in English, which will be accessible online to visitors from around the globe.

2. Basic Problem and Awareness in this Specified Field Study

Since the collapse of Japan’s so-called bubble economy, the 1990s come to be known as the “Lost Decade” of growth, when Japan was considered to be a “single loser” in the global economy. Even after the Lost Decade, Japan still struggles to overcome its deflationary economy and faces difficulties maintaining institutional systems that were built upon the assumption of everlasting economic growth.

Under these circumstances, increasing foreign capital inflow has become one of Japan’s most important economic policy initiatives. This policy will be the basis for any future economic measure. In line with this policy, on March 27, 2003, The Japan Investment Council(JIC), then headed by Prime Minister Koizumi, promulgated a program for the “Promotion of Foreign Direct Investment into Japan.” The JIC identified five important subject fields, one of which was “Outputting Information Inside and Outside of Japan”. The JIC subsequently appointed the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to manage its information window. However, the question lies in the sufficiency of the information that the JIC should provide to the overseas community.

A careful look at the past ten years in terms of legal systems, reveals that this decade could also be described as a rather “fruitful decade.” This is because many important laws relevant to international transactions, including the Corporation Law, bankruptcy related laws, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Arbitration Law, and the Patent Law, have been amended substantially during the past ten years. Other important laws, including rules concerning the application of laws, are also on the waiting list for amendment.

To promote foreign investment in Japan, easy access to relevant information is essential in order to allow foreign investors to calculate business opportunities and legal risks in Japan. Thus, with foreign investors in mind, it is necessary that Japan provides more information on recently enacted laws and regulations relating to international transactions. In reality, however, Japan has failed to build up an institutional system that provides such legal information to global users.

Providing the necessary information, including not only the text of the legislation, but also their commentaries, relevant case law and descriptions are essential. Despite the fact that some laws contain problems of interpretation and application due to ambiguity, only a limited number of laws and some fragmented introductions of pertinent case law have been translated into English, mainly by scholars and private firms that have been involved in formulating the legislation. Furthermore, not all of the relevant commentaries have been translated into English.
Thus, it must be noted that no detailed descriptions of Japanese laws have ever been translated into any foreign language. In other words, although Japan has worked hard to adjust and improve its legal infrastructure over the past decade, its achievements have been neither arranged into well-organized information for global users nor sufficiently provided to the overseas community. As a consequence, foreign investors and businesspersons still consider Japan to be a black box in terms of legal infrastructure.

In addition, because of the urgent need to enact certain legislation and amendments, Japanese lawmakers tend to focus on domestic cases without sufficient consideration for international cases which are of particular relevance to foreign investors (i.e. cases involving foreign investor legal relations) .

Furthermore, no effort has been made so far to identify issues or areas in the laws that require adjustments and supplemental provisions. As a result, Japan seems to have lagged behind on the preparation and formulation of bills which are necessary for encouraging greater foreign direct investment into Japan. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that Japan needs to solve the abovementioned situations, to provide more information directed to the overseas community, and to propose further measures to achieve this goal.

It is common knowledge that any information on the statutory law alone is not enough to understand the structure and functions of a legal system. In a case where provisions of a law are simply stipulated, just reading the provisions will not necessarily lead to a correct interpretation of their meaning and function unless further information is provided concerning the applicable judicial precedents which interpret them or supplement any deficiencies in the legislation. This is why we need to contribute to solving the abovementioned problems through an academic approach.

To meet such needs, working in a specific legal field, independent from other legal fields, will not be sufficient. What we need is a cross-field approach that covers diverse laws and regulations relating to international transactions. In view of this problem, the project study teams have picked eleven project studies, in which researchers of Civil Law, Commercial Law, Intellectual Property Law, financial laws, and other practical laws as well as researchers of private international law have formed teams for joint studies. As any law relating to international transactions intrinsically covers more than one legal field, coordinating researchers of domestic law with those of international law will be vital to achieve greater research merit.
These project study teams are coordinated and steered by the summation team. In addition to this, we have invited three project advisers, from inside and outside Japan to give suggestions and recommendations from a broader perspective. The names of study members, the summation team, and project advisers are to be found on their project websites. (Some members may be replaced during their sabbatical year.)

3. Present and Future Situation of this Specified Field Study

This six-year study project began in the autumn of 2004, with Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Since 2005, have undertaken to enrich our website of this project by uploading English information in different legal fields.

By 2009, the final year of this project, our portal site will contain legislation, case law, outlines of relevant laws, mini-descriptions, and other legal information, all of which will be provided in English. Furthermore, all this information will be easily accessible through a search function within the website. Moreover, we will be seeking new blueprints in anticipation of the completion of this study project. For detailed information regarding the upload schedule of each project study team, pursuant to the total objective set in 2005, please click on the sections of the corresponding project study team pages at the top page of this website.

Toshiyuki Kono, Professor of Law, Kyushu University

(This is a revision of my former paper which appeared in the Japanese-language circulation of Jurist No. 1284 issued on February 15, 2005.)

ORGANIZATION

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MEMBERS

Project Managing Group

Toshiyuki Kono Project Leader
Professor of Law, Kyushu University
Yoshiaki Nomura Professor of Law, Osaka University
Shinichiro Hayakawa Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Ryu Kojima Associate Professor of Law, Kyushu University
Tadashi Kanzaki Professor of Law, Gakushuin University
Masato Dogauchi Professor of Law, Waseda University
Junichi Matsushita Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Yoshihisa Hayakawa Professor of Law, Rikkyo University
Shunichiro Nakano Professor of Law, Kobe University
Takashi Kubota Professor of Law, Waseda University
Nozomi Tada Professor of Law, Kumamoto University
Kenichi Osugi Professor of Law, Chuo University
Hiroshi Sano Professor of Law, Okayama University

Senior Advisors

Yoshiaki Sakurada Professor of Law, Konan University
Hideki Kanda Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Jürgen Basedow Director, Max-Planck-Institute
for foreign and private international law

International Corporate Law Group

Research related to international corporate law 
Yoshihisa Hayakawa Project Leader
Professor of Law, Rikkyo University
Tomotaka Fujita Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Hideyuki Matsui Associate Professor of Law, Rikkyo University
Tomoyo Matsui Associate Professor of Law, Tohoku University
Dai Yokomizo Professor of Law, Nagoya University
Atsushi Koide Associate Professor of Law, Gakusyuin University
Research related to the law on foreign legal persons
Kenichi Osugi Project Leader
Professor of Law, Chuo University
Mafumi Kamatani Associate Professor of Law, Seinan University

International Goods and Services Transaction Law Group

Research related to BtoC transactions
Shinichiro Hayakawa Project Leader
Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Shoji Kawakami Professor of Law, Tohoku University
Hiroto Dogauchi Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Research related to BtoB transactions
Hiroshi Sano Project Leader
Professor of Law, Okayama University
Kiyoshi Aoki Professor of Law, Nanzan University
Hiroo Sono Professor of Law, Hokkaido University
Souichirou Kozuka Professor of Law, Sophia University
Mika Takahashi Associate Professor of Law, Rikkyo University

International Financing Law Group

Research related to the law on financial transactions 
Yoshiaki Nomura Project Leader
Professor of Law, Osaka University
Mami Shimomura Professor of Law, Osaka University
Tetsuo Morishita Professor of Law, Sophia University
Aki Kitazawa Professor of Law, Keio University
Noritaka Yamashita Associate Professor of Law, Osaka University
Kent Anderson Professor of Law, Australian National University
Harald Baum Senior Researcher, Max-Planck-Institute
for foreign private and private international laws
Research related to the law on financial regulation 
Takashi Kubota Project Leader
Professor, Graduate School of Law, Waseda University
Koji Kinoshita Professor of Law, Doshisha University
Motoaki Tasawa Professor of Law, Meiji Gakuin University
Masao Yanaga Professor of Business Sciences, Tsukuba University

International Intellectual Property Law Group

Research related to the law of industrial property rights
Toshiyuki Kono Project Leader
Professor of Law, Kyushu University
Kenichi Kumagai Professor of Law, Meiji University
Shigeki Chaen Professor of Law, Osaka University
Ryo Shimanami Professor of Law, Kobe University
Hisayoshi Yokoyama Professor of Law, Gakushuin University
Research related to copyright law
Ryu Kojima Project Leader
Associate Professor of Law, Kyushu University
Dai Yokomizo Professor of Law, Nagoya University
Tatsuhiro Ueno Associate Professor of Law, Rikkyo University
Yasuyuki Echi Associate Professor of Law, Kyoto University
Miho Shin Part-time Assistant Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
Yuko Nishitani International Research Associate, University of Cologne

International Civil Procedure Law Group

Research related to international insolvency
Tadashi Kanzaki Project Leader
Professor of Law, Gakushuin University
Junichi Matsushita Professor of Law, Tokyo University
Keisuke Takeshita Associate Professor of Law, Tohoku University
Research related to international arbitration
Shunichiro Nakano Project Leader
Professor of Law, Kobe University
Research related to international civil procedure law
Nozomi Tada Project Leader
Professor of Law, Kumamoto University
Mari Nagata Associate Professor of Law, Osaka University

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