Civil Justice in Crisis: Comparative Perspectives of Civil Procedure

By Adrian A. S. Zuckerman; Sergio Chiarloni et al. | Go to book overview
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7
Civil Justice Reform: Access, Cost, and Expedition. The Japanese Perspective
Yukiko Hasebe
1. INTRODUCTION
In Japan the new Code of Civil Procedure was enacted in 1996 and came into effect in January 1998. The 1996 Code (which I will refer to as 'the New Code') replaced the former Code, which dated from 1926 (which I will refer to as 'the Old Code'). The aim of the reforms was to offer ordinary citizens plain and accessible civil justice.1The main reforms of the New Code are as follows:
1. the establishment of pre-trial procedures for identifying genuine issues;
2. the improvement of the method for obtaining evidence;
3. the introduction of a small claims procedure; and
4. the restriction of appeals to the Supreme Court.

The overall objective is to achieve expeditious and efficient civil justice. This, in itself, is no doubt desirable. However, if it sacrifices fairness in justice, we should think it over again. What is justice? What are its most fundamental and essential elements? And how should we seek to realize them? It is against the background of these questions that I will describe the recent reforms and the present situation in Japanese civil justice.


2. OUTLINE OF THE JAPANESE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM

2.1. Historical background

The first Code of Civil Procedure in Japan was enacted in 1890. It was based on German law. Most of the technical terms now current in Japanese procedural law were created through translation of the corresponding German terms.

____________________
1
For the reforms, see Homusho-Minjikyoku-sanjikanshitsu (Counsellors Office, Civil Affairs Bureau, the Ministry or Justice), Ichimon-Itto Shin-Minjisoshoho (Q & A on the New Code of Civil Procedure) ( 1996) (in Japanese); Masahiko Omura, "'A Comparative Analysis of Trial Preparation: Some Aspects of the New Japanese Code of Civil Procedure'", in Toward Comparative Law in the 21st Century (The Institute of Comparative Law in Japan, 1998).

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