Japan: The importance and evolution of legal Institutions at the turn of the century

Kent Anderson, Trevor Ryan

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Introduction. Japan is an archipelago of almost 4000 islands, formed by intersecting fault lines off the Asian continent. The largest are Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido. Japan's 3500-kilometre length creates great disparities in climate – from snowy Hokkaido in the north to tropical Okinawa in the south. Generally, however, Japan is a mountainous country. This fact is driven home by strong regionality and by the densely populated plains of the Kanto, Kansai and Chukyo regions of Honshu, each a centre of intense industrial and economic activity surrounding a major city – Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya respectively. The population of Japan is about 126 million, though its size and age composition are projected to change dramatically in the coming decades through ageing and a declining birth rate. Japan is a constitutional monarchy. Its Parliament is named the Diet and is made up of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors, both elected directly by the people. Japan's government is composed of legislative, administrative and judicial arms. Each is independent, though the Prime Minister and the majority of the Cabinet are drawn from the Diet. Japan's political parties have seen significant realignment at the turn of the century. The centrist Democratic Party of Japan, which took power in 2009, has been the first party to substantially challenge the post-1955 status quo of a Conservative ruling party (the Liberal Democratic Party) and a socialist opposition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLaw and Legal Institutions of Asia: Traditions, adaptations and innovations
    Editors E Ann Black and Gary F Bell
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780521116497
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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