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January 2018

Written by: (Kobe University Law Faculty Prof) James Claxton & Luke Nottage

[This is an non-hyperlinked / unfootnoted version of a posting published by the Kluwer Mediation Blog]

More than 1,400 years ago, Japan codified Confucian and Buddhist approaches to governing in Prince Shotoku’s Constitution, whose first article provides that “[h]armony should be valued, and quarrels should be avoided.” The underlying principle, wa (harmony), was promoted and reflected in the fabric of Japanese society and may have contributed to a persistent preference for non-adversarial means of settling disagreements. Mediation, in particular, has a storied history in Japan and continues to play an important role in the resolution of disputes. But most mediation services have been provided by the government or courts, despite a 2004 statute encouraging certification and expansion of privately-supplied Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, as part of a broader suite of justice system reforms to make Japan’s legal system more tangible in everyday life.

It is in the context of that contemporary challenge as well as the longer-standing spirit of wa that the Japan International Mediation Centre-Kyoto (JIMC-Kyoto) will soon begin operations. The JIMC-Kyoto is part of a broader initiative to breath fresh life into international disputes services in Japan. The official start of business awaits final governmental approval, which should come early this year.

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Japanese Law in Asia-Pacific Socio-Economic Context
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