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The topic of resolution of traffic accident cases in Japan has already seen two works in English: a 1989 article by J. Mark Ramseyer and Minoru Nakazato in the Journal of Legal Studies and a 1990 article by Takao Tanase in the Law and Society Review. Why yet another article?

First, despite the fine treatment of a wide range of issues in those articles, neither of those works gave much attention to what I regard as one of the most interesting and important aspects of the Japanese treatment of automobile accident cases: namely, the role of the judiciary and the legal profession in creating and maintaining the system for resolving traffic accident disputes. That aspect of the story raises fascinating issues both in the Japanese setting (including posing the question of the impact of culture, at a somewhat deeper level than is discussed in either of the prior articles) and in comparative perspective.

A second reason for this Article relates to my concern over the way in which Japanese law is often viewed. The manner in which the prior works have been received reflects a continuing and disturbing pattern in Western views of Japanese law: the pervasive staying power of certain enduring cultural myths and stereotypes, based on superficial indicia, in the face of rather compelling counterexpla nations.



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