1. Three basic pillars of legal technical assistance
The term “Houseid-seibi-shien (legal technical assistance)” in Japanese is still not a familiar word among Japanese people. This is quite natural as only recently has such assistance activities begun to be developed in a systematic manner.
Based on past experience, legal technical assistance can be described as follows:
“Assisting developing countries in their self-help efforts to improve their legal systems.”
Three basic pillars of assistance:
- Assistance in drafting laws;
- Assistance in improving legal systems to enforce and operate laws; and
- Assistance in capacity-building of legal professionals, etc.
2. History of Japanese legal technical assistance (by the Ministry of Justice)
- 1994 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- 1995 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- 1997 Initiation of region-focused training courses for
Myanmar and Vietnam (the number of participating countries increased later).
- 1998 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- 2000 Dispatch of long-term experts to
Initiation of training in legislative-drafting for
- April 2001 Establishment of the International Cooperation Department (ICD)
within the Research and Training Institute
- November 2001 Relocation of the ICD to the
- July 2002 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- October 2002 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- February 2006 Dispatch of long-term experts to
- November 2007 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- March 2008 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
- December 2008 Initiation of special training courses for four Central Asian countries (
- July 2010 Initiation of country-focused training courses for
Through establishment and relocation of the ICD, the Research and Training Institute holds a major base for legal technical assistance in
1. Legal system run by people
The word “legal system” encompasses a legal system composed of a Constitution as the supreme law and subordinate laws, and an operating system of such laws.
The legal system stipulates basic rules of society, and bears an important role in resolving disputes and maintaining public order by punishing wrongdoers, thereby realizing the rights and obligations of citizens. However, in order for a legal system to actually function, citizens involved in disputes as well as people relevant to the legal system must play their respective roles.
2. Legal system as common property with other countries
The development of the means of transportation and telecommunication technology in modern society has expedited economic transactions and other international exchanges. In a world where the transfer of people, capital, goods and information takes place in large volume, the legal system of a country affects not only its own country but also other countries and their people. Thus, without a well-established and trustworthy legal system, a country cannot trustfully expect to develop its industries and economy.
3. History of the Modernization of the Japanese legal system
Until the middle of the 19th century, the unique legal system of
The legal system should be changed in accordance with changes in society, the economy and culture. Updating legal systems is a continuous process, and developed countries are also making efforts to restructure their individual legal systems.
4. Situation in developing countries
Many developing countries suffer from a lack of modern legal systems. Countries which previously adopted a centrally-controlled economic policy are feeling the need to drastically restructure their entire legal systems as they introduce market economies. As it is a difficult process for many of these countries to lay the foundation for a modern legal system rapidly and properly by themselves (due to scarce human and material resources), international donors and developed countries have been requested to provide legal technical assistance.
5. Significance of Japanese legal technical assistance
To strengthen its presence in the world,
- A legal culture different from that of other developed countries;
- Over 100-years of experience in studying and introducing the main Western legal systems (of France, Germany, the USA, the UK and others) to structure its own legal system; and
- A culture which has similarities to those in other Asian countries.
6. Basic policies of legal technical assistance
- Respect for the independence and ownership of recipient countries;
- Provide optional proposals for legal development and leave decision-making to recipient countries;
- Conduct thorough surveys on the situation of recipient countries.
- Middle- and long-term perspectives;
- Not simply drafting laws:
- Place importance on institutional and personnel capacity-building for systematic enforcement and operation of law.
1. Recent activities
In response to requests from developing countries in Asia, the Research and Training Institute, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and others, has advanced assistance with a focus on establishing laws and ensuring their operation, which will serve as a foundation for developing good governance and a market economy in requesting countries. The ICD is making effort to further enhance and develop its assistance activities.
Legal technical assistance comes under the category of intellectual assistance in ODA projects, and is attracting public attention as a form of person-to-person soft power assistance.
Activities of the ICD can be roughly divided into the following five categories:
a. Training in
b. Sending lecturers to local seminars
c. Assistance in legislative-drafting
d. Dispatching experts as local advisors
e. Other activities.
Details of each of the above are stated below.
a. Training in
The ICD invites law-making officers, judges, prosecutors, private attorneys and such others to training courses of various programs held in
The curricula of these training courses consist of lectures on the Japanese legal system, presentations by participants on specific themes (country reports), discussions among participants, and visits to judicial institutions. These are designed to encourage participants to i) Deepen their understanding of the fundamental principles of law, the development history of the Japanese legal system, the structure and actual operation of the current Japanese legal system, and the present situation and problems in the legal systems of participants’ countries, etc. and through which to ii) Examine measures to solve such problems.
Training courses are held primarily in the Osaka Nakanoshima National Government Building where the ICD is located, the main office of the Research and Training Institute in Kasumiagaseki,
[Country-focused course, and region-focused course]
While specific issues of a participating country are studied in detail in a country-focused course, the legal systems of all participating countries are studied and compared in a region-focused course.
b. Sending lecturers to local seminars
The ICD sends its professors as lecturers to seminars held in recipient countries to speak on various types of legislation and their applications.
Seminar themes are chosen from among those which need to be addressed urgently by recipient countries due to such reasons as impending legislation or law amendment. Law-drafting officers from relevant institutions are invited to seminars to attend lectures and discussions for several days.
Local seminars have such merits as:
- Allowing large groups of individuals to participate; and
- Lecturers dispatched from
c. Assistance in legislative drafting
The ICD has assisted in drafting the revised Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code of Vietnam, the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure of Cambodia, and other laws. For each case of legislative assistance, working groups are formed consisting of law professors in Japan, and the ICD assigns its professors to these working groups to plan and make necessary coordination with working group members to hold training courses inviting law draftsmen from recipient countries.
d. Dispatching experts as local advisors
In cooperation with the Supreme Court, the ICD dispatches two public prosecutors to
Moreover, the ICD occasionally send its professors to recipient countries from a few weeks to a few months to carry out field surveys on the legal systems of recipient countries. Recently the ICD dispatched its professors to
e. Other activities
In addition to legal technical assistance, the ICD performs other types of activities, including the organization of international symposiums and legal research.
It has held several symposiums as part of country-focused and region-focused training courses, and also conferences on corporate law, etc., inviting experts from the Asia-Pacific region. On August 28, 2009, a symposium titled, “Let’s Think Together about Our Legal Technical Assistance – International Cooperation in the Legal Field,” was held in
The Japan-Korea Partnership Program is also administered by the ICD, in which officials of the Ministry of Justice and of the Supreme Court of Japan, and Korean court officials conduct studies and exchange views on practices in relation to registration, deposit, family register and civil execution.
2. Associated organizations
The ICD keeps close ties with other organizations including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JICA, and the International Civil and Commercial Law Centre (ICCLC), in developing its activities. The ICCLC, which is a reliable partner of the ICD, is a foundation established in April 1996 with help from business, academic, and legal circles, for the purpose of legal technical assistance in the civil and commercial law field.
The ICD also receives cooperation from universities in
Several international organizations including the United Nations and the World Bank, along with developed countries have provided legal technical assistance around the world. Japan needs to promote further efficient and effective assistance in coordination with these donors and other countries.
As international economic activities continue to intensify,
of the Japanese Government on legal technical assistance. These policies emphasize the conventional strategy of strengthening the all Japan support system, through cooperation
between the public and private sectors. In addition, the policies set a new objective of establishing a favorable investment climate for Japanese businesses abroad, with a focus on