Through the introduction of the doi-moi (renovation) policy in 1986, Vietnam chose to make a shift from the traditional socialist-planned economy to a market economy. However, without legal systems in place to adequately serve a market economy, economic transitions would end up being a pie in the sky. Thus, Vietnam requested legal technical assistance from Japan -- a developed country in the same Asian region -- to accelerate its economic transition. In response to this request, the Ministry of Justice of Japan (MOJ) organized a training course inviting Vietnamese judicial officials to Japan in October 1994. This marked the commencement of Japanese legal technical assistance to Vietnam, and is still ongoing to this day.
In 1996, a private attorney was dispatched to Vietnam as the first long-term legal expert of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in the framework of its Program of Cooperation in the Legal Field with Vietnam. Since 2000, the MOJ has regularly dispatched two long-term experts (one judge and one public prosecutor), and thus, with the constant presence of three long-term experts: a judge, a public prosecutor and a private attorney; in Hanoi (capital of Vietnam) a daily-basis assistance mechanism was set up.
Later, assistance was augmented to work with four counterpart organizations in Vietnam: the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the Bar Federation of Vietnam. Assistance areas have expanded to cover law fields including the Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code, Civil Execution Law, Bankruptcy Law, State Compensation Law, etc. In addition, the criminal law field and Criminal Procedure Code fields were also covered. Moreover, focus haｓ been placed on legislative assistance, as well as human resource development of “legal professionals”, who actually engage in the operation of law.
Currently, Phase II of the Project of Technical Assistance for the Legal and Judicial System Reform, which began in April 2011, is underway. In addition to on-site assistance being provided on a continual and daily basis by long-term experts in this program, several training courses have been held annually in Japan (and also Vietnam) by Japanese law professors and others. Assistance objects are not limited to central government agencies, and efforts are also being made in local cities to improve legal practices. Legal technical assistance is expanding on an ongoing basis both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Cambodia, after going through the Pol Pot regime from 1975 to 1979 (and the subsequent longstanding civil war) and an operation by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), started anew as an independent nation with the enactment of a new Constitution in 1993. However, due to the abolition of laws and genocide of intellectuals and others by the Pol Pot regime, the country suffered a serious lack of basic laws, as well as legal professionals capable of interpreting and operating law. Under these circumstances, the establishment of judicial systems through development of laws and training of legal professionals was an urgent challenge the country was forced to address. For this reason, the Cambodian government requested assistance from Japan to improve its legal and judicial systems.
Upon receiving the request, Japanese legal technical assistance to Cambodia officially began in 1996 under the framework of JICA with the participation of the MOJ. In 1999, a Legal and Judicial Cooperation Project was initiated with Cambodia to support its effort in drafting the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure. As a result, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Civil Code were enacted in 2006 and 2007 respectively. The above project is still continuing to disseminate the two new codes as well as to draft other civil-related laws.
In parallel with this, for the purpose of facilitating appropriate interpretation and operation of the codes, in 2005, a capacity-building project was commenced at the Royal School for Judges and Prosecutors in Cambodia to improve its training on civil matters. In this project, with an aim towards autonomous management of the school, intensive training was provided to candidate trainers selected from among promising young judges for their capacity-building. Currently, a few graduates from the school who have gone through this training are serving as faculty members. For the implementation of this project, the MOJ has dispatched a judge and three public prosecutors as JICA’s long-term experts to Cambodia. These individuals engaged in daily assistance activities, such as training candidate trainers, holding mock trials, drafting teaching materials, etc., until March 2012.
Subsequently in April 2012, a new project under a different framework was begun for the further dissemination of the Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure. This project works with four major legal institutions in Cambodia: the Ministry of Justice, the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions (an elite organization of the Royal School for Judges and Prosecutors), the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the Royal University of Law and Economics. In this project, JICA long-term experts (including a judge, public prosecutor and a private attorney) work for on-site human resource development and share responsibilities in training working groups formed at each of the above four counterpart organizations. At the same time, following the previous project, assistance in drafting and disseminating the Inter-Ministerial Prakas Concerning Real Rights Registration Procedure Pertaining to the Civil Code is also underway.
Since 1986, through promotion of economic liberalization with the introduction of the “New Economic Mechanism” or “New Thinking (Chin-Thanakaan-Mai)” policy, the government of Lao P.D.R. has pursued reforms for opening up its economy and shifting to a market economy.
After its accession to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997, it sought to join the WTO (Its membership was approved by the WTO General Council in Oct. 2012). During this period, and in the course of making improvements towards a legal system which would promote a market economy, the country encountered the problem of insufficient basic laws. In addition, some existing laws were not systematically organized. Furthermore, the legislative procedure was quite inefficient, and there was no unified or expeditious legal operation. One of the noted underlying causes of these problems was Laos suffering from a lack of capable individuals in the legal and judicial field.
Against this background, and under the framework of its technical assistance project from 2003 to 2007, JICA provided assistance in drafting: 1) Textbooks of the Civil Code and Commercial Code; and 2) A Civil Judgment Manual and a Prosecutor’s Manual. The International Cooperation Department (ICD) assisted by dispatching long-term and short-term experts to Laos, etc.
Even after the completion of this project, the ICD regularly conducted field surveys (in cooperation with Nagoya University and other institutions) to keep informed of any need for assistance to Laos. Based on the results of these surveys, in July 2010 a new JICA initiative called “Project for Human Resource Development in the Legal Sector” was launched over a 4-year span. This new project aims at personnel and institutional capacity-building to improve legal education and practices in Laos. It seeks the involvement of officials in the legal and judicial sector, and in legal education. Specifically, such personnel and institutions co-relate and analyze legal theories and practices in relation to the Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. They also compile the results of their studies in the form of law textbooks (Legislative assistance on the Civil Code was added to the Project in Aug. 2012), and disseminate the three codes. The ICD is extending every possible assistance to this project, through such measures as dispatching its professors to Laos as long-term and short-term experts, and holding training seminars for Laotian officials in Japan, etc.
With a population of approximately 238 million, Indonesia has achieved steady economic growth in recent years. As a foundation for sustaining further growth, it realizes the need to improve its legal and judicial systems.
Upon receipt of a request for assistance from the Indonesian government, the ICD, in cooperation with JICA and the International Civil and Commercial Law Centre Foundation (ICCLC), implemented a two-year Project on Improvement of Mediation System from March 2007. This project provided assistance in: 1) Revising regulations of the Supreme Court on mediation; 2) Improving the devices necessary for training mediators; and 3) Disseminating the court-annexed mediation system.
Upon completion of the project, the Supreme Court of Indonesia expressed its intent to continue learning from Japanese legal systems and experiences. In response to this request (since Apr. 2010) the MOJ has developed unique cooperative activities with Indonesia to improve its judicial training system, by inviting Indonesian judges to joint studies of personnel capacity-building systems held in Japan, etc.
In response to a request for assistance from the Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the ICD, in cooperation with related organizations, including JICA, and specialists in bankruptcy law in Japan, etc., initiated assistance in drafting a commentary on the Bankruptcy Law of Uzbekistan in 2004. Consequently, this project resulted in the creation of the Commentary Russian version in March 2007, an Uzbek and Japanese version in September of the same year, and an English version in March 2008.
Since 2008, the ICD has annually organized a region-focused training course, “Comparative Study Seminar on the Legal Systems in Central Asia,” under the theme of corporate legal systems in Central Asian countries, inviting officials related to the theme from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
In 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded as a socialist country. In the 1990s, while maintaining the socialist regime, the PRC began introducing a market economy on a full scale, and in 2001 joined the WTO. Currently, it is making efforts to establish legal systems fully applicable to a market economy.
Japan and China have constantly sustained close relationships as neighboring countries since ancient times. In recent years, the relationship between the two countries has been further deepening with numerous Japanese companies expanding their businesses into the Chinese market. Thus, the establishment of legal systems befitting a market economy in China has become a major area of concern for Japanese businesses. At the same time, China has maintained a strong interest in the legal system of Japan, which has developed its modern legal system since the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912) to take its place among developed countries after World War II. Under these circumstances, in 2006 China requested knowledge and expertise from Japan in revising its Civil Procedure Law and other related laws.
Upon receipt of the request, in the following year the ICD (in cooperation with JICA and other institutions) began legislative assistance on the Civil Procedure Law, Arbitration Law and other civil-related laws towards China. Since 2012, the assistance area has expanded to cover the Administrative Procedure Law and other administrative-related laws. As major assistance activities, training seminars have been held in China and Japan to transmit Japanese knowledge and experiences. As the results of these efforts, the Tort Law and the International Private Law were enacted in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and the Civil Procedure Law was amended in 2012 in China.
The ICD has organized the “Japan-Korea Partnership Program” since 2001. In this program, both the Japan and Korea sessions are held annually for approximately 10 days each. Officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Legal Affairs Bureau and the courts of Japan, and those of the Supreme Court and lower courts of Korea, exchange opinions regarding institutional and practical problems being faced in the performance of their duties. The program aims to foster partnership between Japan and Korea, as well as to contribute to further development of the legal systems and improvement of legal practices in both countries.
Timor-Leste emerged from under colonial rule of Portugal in 1975, but was immediately thereafter invaded by Indonesia. After a longstanding conflict, Timor-Leste finally achieved formal independence in 2002, and became the first country in the world to do so in the 21st century. Since then, it has endeavored to rebuild itself with assistance from international donors, including the U.N., and developed countries. Currently it is putting effort into legal development (one of the foundations for nation-building) with the intention of acceding to ASEAN.
Timor-Leste has found it to be extremely difficult to undertake legal development without assistance from abroad, due to an extreme shortage of human resources, information, and experience in such endeavors.
Against this background, since 2009 the ICD has provided assistance in strengthening the legislative-capacity of law-making officers in the Ministry of Justice of Timor-Leste, so as to facilitate their acquisition of the necessary knowledge and know-how on policy-planning and legislative drafting. To date, several workshops on legislative skills have been organized in Japan and Timor-Leste dealing with extradition law, illegal drug control law, mediation law, etc. Japanese assistance seeks to encourage legal draftsmen of Timor-Leste to acquire the ability to draft national laws on their own instead of simply copying and pasting from foreign laws.
Through movement for democratization, Nepal announced the abolition of the monarchy and a transition to the democratic federal system in May 2008. Since then, its Constitutional Assembly has worked and will contnue to work on the amendment of its Constitution. Running parallel to this movement, with the aim of drastically modernizing its legal system, Nepal has undertaken the dividing and amending of “Mulki Ain” (a code subsuming four legal areas: civil substantive law, civil procedural law, criminal substantive law and criminal procedural law), which was enacted in the 19th century and is still in force today. Following these attempts, in 2011, bills of the Civil Code, Civil Procedure Code, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Sentencing Act, and the Act relating to Amendment, Unification, Adjustment and Repeal of Some Nepalese Laws were submitted to the Constitutional Assembly.
In order to assist Nepal in its efforts towards democratization, the ICD has organized training courses on the Civil Code and the drafting of its commentary, as part of JICA’s assistance program for democratization in Nepal. In addition, to help it tackle the problem of case backlog, a training seminar was held for Nepalese judges in 2012 under the theme of “case management.” This approach is expected to continue in the years to come. As an original assistance program covering not only the civil-law field but also other law fields, the ICD also conducts joint studies on criminal justice with the Office of Attorney General of Nepal.
In March 2011, Myanmar succeeded in shifting to civilian rule from a continuous and prolonged military regime, followed by the formation of a new government. In order to construct a democratized modern nation, the country placed the establishment of good governance and clean government at the top of its agenda. In accordance with this decision, it has promoted several policies and measures to strengthen the rule of law as a tool to achieve the above goal, and has steadily been on the road to democracy.
Based on the evaluation on such efforts toward reforms in Myanmar, the Japanese government announced, in the Japan-Myanmar summit meeting held April 2012, its assistance policy to the effect that “Japan would extend assistance to support reformatory efforts for democratization, national reconciliation and sustainable development in Myanmar, in a way that the people would be able to enjoy the benefits of the reforms nationwide.” Legal technical assistance, as a form of “assistance for human and institutional capacity-building which supports the economy and society,” promotes democratic and economic reforms in Myanmar. It is also one of the important cooperation methods contributing to the improvement of foreign investment climate, including that for Japanese enterprises.
In August 2012, the Policy Research Institute of the Ministry of Finance signed a cooperation memorandum with the Central Bank of Myanmar to establish a capital market in Myanmar. This is being implemented under partnership between the public and private sectors across Japan, including: the ICD, the Finance Services Agency, the academia, the legal community, the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Daiwa Institute of Research Group, JICA and other institutions. This is designed to assist Myanmar in formulating securities trading-related laws and relevant personnel capacity-building.
The ICD has furthermore taken alternative approaches to assist legal development in Myanmar, through such activities as conducting a field survey on the actual legal systems in Myanmar, and also inviting the Justice Chief of the Supreme Court of the Union and other officials from Myanmar. For 2013 and onward, several activities are planned in collaboration with JICA and other related organizations. Working with the Union Attorney General’s Office and the Supreme Court of the Union in Myanmar as counterpart organizations, we seek to promote cooperative relationships between Japan and Myanmar in the field of legislative assistance and human resource development.