Preface

In the study of Japanese history, legal history plays a significant role. As Ishimoda Shō 1 writes, history involves a search for the historical basis of particular legal concepts in any given period. It is important, he argues, to comprehend the historical necessity for the appearance of specific items of law. A legal approach to the analysis of any society offers an opportunity to gain a unique insight into the nature and socio-political values of that society.

This book concerns itself with the right to life under the present Japanese Constitution. The theme of what life is, and has been, in Japanese society is approached from an essentially legal perspective. This study questions the supremacy of the constitutional provision of the right to life vis-à-vis other values in Japanese society, and examines the extent to which traditional Japanese values override the sanctity of the individual’s right to life.

In an attempt to assess the degree to which Japanese values clash with the Western value of the right to life, we concentrate our attention on areas where both law and practice conflict with the core fundamental right to life. The legal argument as to what life is, and when it begins and ends, together with the infringements of this right within the modern company organization, and by the state, are examined. There arises the subsidiary, but by no means unimportant, issue of the equality of the right to life, which demands attention. All the questions raised lead us to an understanding of how the concept of life itself is perceived in Japan.

During the course of writing this book, which is based on my University of Oxford doctoral thesis, I received help and encouragement from many people. I wish to thank, in particular, my supervisor, Professor J.A.A. Stockwin, Nissan Professor of Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of St Antony’s College, for his continued guidance and support. I am also grateful

-ix-

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The Right to Life in Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor’s Preface vi
  • Figures and Tables viii
  • Preface ix
  • Conventions xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Law and Rights in Japan 5
  • 3 - Aspects of the Boundaries of Life 16
  • 4 - The Equality of the Right to Life 51
  • 5 - The Social Value of Death 71
  • 6 - Moral Value and Japanese Law 85
  • Notes 101
  • Bibliography 150
  • Index 166
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