Proposal Prompts Merging of Law Schools

Article excerpt

A Justice Ministry panel has compiled an interim proposal aimed at increasing the overall success rate in the national bar exam by closing and merging graduate law schools whose graduates have low pass rates.

After the government approved the establishment of law schools for graduate students in their current form in 2004, 74 such schools opened across the nation, far more than the government initially predicted.

Accordingly, the number of law school students also exceeded expectations, causing a gap in education level among schools due to a shortage of educators.

Although the government initially aimed at a 70 percent to 80 percent pass rate in the national bar exam, the rate last year stood at 24.6 percent, and nearly 30 percent of law schools recorded pass rates of below 10 percent.

As such low pass rates cause a drop in the number of law school applicants, sparking a vicious cycle, about 30 percent of law schools had fewer than 10 new students.

Himeji Dokkyo University in Hyogo Prefecture, Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo and three other universities have already stopped accepting new students, while Tohoku Gakuin University in Miyagi Prefecture announced it will do so beginning in the next academic year.

The panel's proposal said the government must realize an increase in the pass rate of law school students by prompting the closure and consolidation of struggling law schools through such measures as subsidy cuts and withdrawal of judges and public prosecutors sent to the schools as instructors. …