The Japanese Judicial System: Introduction and Contemporary Issues

Briefing Paper 14_front cover

This paper introduces Japan’s judicial system and court hierarchy, outlining the structure of its three-tiered court system, main court processes and the qualification and appointment of judges and other court officials. This paper considers the participation of citizens in the judicial process, most notably through the saiban’in (lay judge) and conciliation systems. It also introduces some key contemporary issues and challenges facing the judicial system in Japan.

Dr Geraldine Carney is a research assistant at the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne and a senior associate in the compensation law practice of a leading Australian law firm. She obtained her PhD at Monash University in 2019 on the topic of international parental child abduction and Japan’s response to the internationalisation of the family. Geraldine also holds a Bachelor of Arts/Law from the University of Melbourne, as well as a Masters in Japanese Interpreting and Translation from Monash University.

Associate Professor Stacey Steele is an academic and practising lawyer specialising in comparative insolvency law in the Asia-Pacific, Japanese law and society, legal education and financial services law. She is fluent in Japanese.

Stacey was appointed Associate Director (Japan) of the Asian Law Centre in January 2002. She holds degrees from the University of Queensland (BA (Jap)), Monash University (MA (Jap)) and the University of Melbourne (LLB (Hons) and LLM (by thesis)).

Stacey worked as a senior associate in the financial services group of a leading Australian commercial law firm, focusing on project/infrastructure and corporate finance. She is now Associate General Counsel at S&P Global Ratings’ Melbourne office, where she continues to have responsibilities for the Asia-Pacific.

Stacey has published widely in academic journals and books, as well as providing commentary to professional newsletters and practitioner publications. She co-edited Match-Fixing in Sport: Comparative Studies from Australia, Japan, Korea and Beyond (Routledge, 2018) with Hayden Opie, Internationalising Japan: Discourse and Practice (Routledge, 2014) with Jeremy Breaden and Carolyn Stevens, and Legal Education in Asia: Globalization, Change and Contexts (Routledge, 2010) with Kathryn Taylor.