Law and Politics in Japan
Development of a New Legal Training System
In July 1999, the Justice System Reform Council was established in order to "clarify the role to be played by justice in Japanese society in the 21st century" Its main role is to examine and deliberate fundamental measures necessary for the realization of ajustice system easier to utilize, measures necessary for participation by the people in the justice system like the Saiban'In, measures necessary to strengthen the functions of the legal profession and other reforms of the justice system, as well as improvements in the infrastructures. The development of a new legal training system was so one of the major issues.
According to the prior legal trainingsystem (see appendix) , the legal education was conducted primarily during the undergraduate level and used to mainly focus on theoretical knowledge with a lack of practical experiences and specialization. In Japan, there're about one hundred universities which have law faculty. Around 45,000 students enrol for law studies every year. Unfortunately, most of them spend their entire career in lawacademies and rare are those who can experience law practice, for example legal training programs which usually take place at the Legal Training and Research Institute. Actually a few students get legal profession and all the others go to companies after graduate. The fact that the average of applicants who passed the Bar examination every year didn't exceed 5%, almost 500 people, shows that theprevious training system was outdated. One of the main objectives of the Council is to enable 3000 student to pass the exam every year within 2010. Indeed the Japanese legal system wants to increase the number of legal professionals in comparison to the other nations. For example, in the US there are currently 1 million of lawyer, in France 47,000 and in Japan only 24,130. We have to remind that theJapanese population is twice the French one. One the main problem put forward is the difficulty and the hyper-competitiveness of the Bar examination. In order to succeed, some students have no choice but going to preparatory school or study by themselves with private support, like internet or distance teaching, because the knowledge provided at the university seems to be not enough. So we canwitness a double school phenomenon which can have a bad influence over the equality between students and the skills really learned.
In order to reform the legal training system efficiently and to increase the number of professionals, the Council introduced major recommendations like the establishment of law schools (see appendix) or the re-organization of the bar exam system. The main objectiveremains to keep quality and quantity. Moreover, more and more students pledge for more social and financial independence because law studies are very expensive.
From the point of view of quantity, the Council aimed to increase the number of passers on bar exam to 3000 by 2010. In order to satisfy conditions of quality, the reforms have to make human resource suitable for Justice of 21st century andpropose real specialization and practice. The number of lawyers expected in Japan in 2018 is 50,000.
The former legal training system led to problems such as "university flight" or the double school phenomenon where students go to preparatory schools to take no chances. The solution proposed by the Council was the creation of law schools providing specialized skills, theoretical andpractical, and open to students from broad range such as graduates from non-law faculties or legal experienced people. The establishment of small classes, with no more than 50 students, may enable a better interactivity and creativity and improve skills in advocacy. The strict evaluation and grading system is also a strong argument in order to insure the students' commitment in their studies and provide...