Fault Lines: Tort Law as Cultural Practice

By David M. Engel; Michael McCann | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Suing Doctors in Japan
Structure, Culture, and the Rise of Malpractice Litigation


This chapter examines conflict over medical malpractice claims in Japan, and uses it as a lens through which to view the relationship between tort law and its social, economic, and political context. Allegations of medical malpractice in Japan have been rising rapidly. What explains the increasing willingness of people who believe that they are victims of medical malpractice to sue? And what (if anything) does the upswing in malpractice litigation suggest about the changing role and importance of the legal system in the lives of the Japanese people?

The relationship between law and society in Japan has long been the source of scholarly speculation, and occasionally the topic of serious academic analysis (Cole 2007; Feldman 2007). The two most widely held points-of-view are dramatically different. One suggests that Japanese culture (rarely defined but generally assumed to encompass social values, norms of behavior, and modes of interpersonal interaction) places a high premium on the preservation of social harmony and the avoidance of open conflict (Kawashima 1963). In that view, the language of law is subordinate to the power of social integration and leads people to forego lawsuits. The other explanation for Japan's low litigation rates posits a more structural cause; namely that the elite has created barriers to inhibit access to the legal system and limit the extent to which courts can be a potent force of social change (Haley 1978; Upham 1987). Among the most important of those barriers are constraints on the number of licensed attorneys, the imposition of high case filing fees, a slow and costly civil litigation process, and limited damage awards (Haley 1978).


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Fault Lines: Tort Law as Cultural Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 385

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?