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Japanese Law Research Guide: Legal System & Statistics

Resources for researching Japanese legal issues and topics.

Modern Japanese Law

The modern Japanese legal system is based on the civil law system, following the model of 19th Century European legal systems, especially the legal codes of Germany and France.  Japan established its legal system when imperial rule to Japan was restored in 1868 as part of the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji Constitution was the organic law of the Japanese empire in effect from 1890 to 1945.  After World War II, there was a major legal reform, and the 1947 Constitution was drawn up under the Allied Occupation, with significant American influence.  The current Japanese legal system is a hybrid of continental and American law.  Both the Civil Law concepts and the more recent Common Law influences are all effected by traditional Japanese values.

  • The Japanese Judicial System and Judicial Proceedings - There are five types of courts in Japan: the Supreme Court, High Courts, District Courts, Family Courts and Summary Courts. Japan adopts a three-tiered judicial system and a summary, family, or district court will be the court of first instance depending on the nature of the matter.
  • The Japanese Attorney System - The Attorney Act defines the mission of attorneys as "protecting fundamental human rights and ensuring social justice" (Article 1). Attorneys have a mission to protect the fundamental human rights of the people and to work for social justice in the courtroom and in all of the legal services they provide.

The Government and Legal System

Country Profile: Japan - BBC News (2019)
Country Study: Japan - Library of Congress - Federal Research Division (1992)
World Factbook: Japan - Prepared by the US - CIA (2019)
Country Profile: Japan - Prepared by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (2019)
UN Japan Country Profile [.pdf] - UN Country Profile series as per Agenda 21 requirements (2002)
UN Data Country Profile Japan - Data and statistics (2016)
Asia Country Briefing - The Economist. Japan section starts at page 18 (2019)
Country Report: Japan - The Economist Intelligence Unit (2019)
Country Briefing on Japan - The Economist. Includes news on Japan (2016)
Country Finance: Japan - The Economist Intelligence Unit (2012)
Japanese Law: An Overview - by Luke Nottage & Masaki Abe (2008)
Japanese Judiciary: Maintaining Integrity, Autonomy and the Public Trust - by John Haley (2007)


e-Stat: Portal Site of Official Statistics for Japan - Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Statistics Bureau - Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Statistical Standards - Director-General for Policy Planning
Economic and Financial Data for Japan - IMF Special Data Dissemination
Japan Statistical Yearbook - Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Statistics - Cabinet Office, Government Of Japan
Guide to Statistical Materials for Learning about Japan - [2017] National Diet Library
Japanese Law A-Z: Statistics - University of Washington Law Library Research Guide