Washington International Law Journal


Shinichirō Michida is the original author of this work. Veronica L. Taylor is the translator.


This translation of an original Japanese language work by Michida Shinichirō contrasts the differences between the understanding of contractual obligations in the United States and in Japan. The translation cites specific differences between each country's statutes and case law, as well as distinct cultural factors that are important when considering respective understandings of contract in these societies. Translator's Introductory Note: This translation is intended to give readers an introduction to Japanese contract law theory and its operation in that society. Professor Shinichirō Michida was writing for a general audience in Japan, not simply for those with legal training. One of his aims was to debunk the myth that the Japanese have no sense of contract—a theory that had been popularly accepted within Japan, as well as in the United States. The value of this extract for foreign lawyers is that it demonstrates the interplay of codes, statutes, cases and scholarly writing in a civil law system like Japan's. As this extract shows, the major role of legal scholars in civil law countries is to synthesize reported cases and statutes by interpreting the underlying policy of code or statute provisions. Instead of criticizing and attacking court decisions and their underlying policy motives, however, Japanese commentators commonly affirm decisions and explain their reasoning in applying legal theory. The scholar's role in a civil law system is to generate legal theory, rather than to force its adoption by practitioners.

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