29 July 2014

BOOK: Vanoverbeke, Maesschalck, Nelken, and Parmentier on The Changing Role Of Law In Japan

Elgar has published The Changing Role Of Law In Japan: Empirical Studies in Culture, Society and Policy Making:

Edited by Dimitri Vanoverbeke, Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium, Jeroen Maesschalck, Professor of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium, David Nelken, Distinguished Professor of Legal Institutions and Social Change, University of Macerata, Italy and Professor of Comparative and Transnational Law, King’s College London, UK and Stephan Parmentier, Professor of Sociology of Crime, Law, and Human Rights, University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium

‘The role of culture in the operation of Japanese law is one of the great questions of sociolegal studies. Discussions tend to polarize, between a simplistic view of cultural determinism and a more universalist approach that emphasizes institutions. This superb collection, with a diverse and accomplished set of contributors, takes culture seriously. It shows how legal institutions have both shaped and been shaped by Japanese legal culture. A state-of-the art assessment of Japanese law after more than a decade of reforms, this book is a must for anyone interested in understanding legal culture more broadly.’
–Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School, US


‘The Changing Role of Law in Japan is a path-breaking work of comparative legal scholarship, offering a fresh and compelling perspective on the Japanese legal system that makes it essential reading for anyone interested in the role of law in industrialized democracies. The editors present a convincing case for putting a dynamic conception of culture at the heart of comparative legal studies, while simultaneously demonstrating the wisdom of comparing Japanese law and legal institutions to their European rather than their American counterparts. This is a volume that will be read, and debated, for years to come.’
– Eric A. Feldman, University of Pennsylvania Law School, US

The Changing Role of Law in Japan offers a comparative perspective on the changing role of law in East Asia, discussing issues such as society, cultural values, access to the legal system and judicial reform. This innovative book places Japan in the wider context, juxtaposed with Europe, rather than the US, for the first time.

Parallel to Japan’s rise to economic prominence on the world scene in the 1960s, law and legal thinking in the country have become the focus for academic research in various respects. One recurring question has been how Japan managed to become one of the most important economic actors in the world, without the legal infrastructure usually associated with complex economic activities. This book addresses many current issues that illustrate important changes in Japanese society and its political and legal systems. The authors investigate fundamental questions about the precise role of law and the courts in Japan, and try to go beyond the classical paradigm that attributes the particularities of Japan to its unique culture or its exceptional position. The various contributions to this book all demonstrate the importance of challenging existing conceptions and revisiting them through meticulous socio-legal and empirical research.

This book will appeal to scholars of sociology of law, international studies and those interested in a transnational approach to the legal framework. Graduate students dealing with law in Asia, intellectual property, patent law and competition law will also find much relevance in this interesting and stimulating book.

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