Washington International Law Journal


Tay-sheng Wang


Taiwan is an excellent example for rethinking the significance of translation and codification of law in the process of transplantation of modern law in East Asian countries. Regardless of its strangeness to the general public, the translation of Western laws was always codified in Meiji Japan for the purpose of “receiving” modern law. Those Westernized Japanese legal codes also took effect in Taiwan during the later period of Japanese colonial rule, although Japanese colonialists initially applied Taiwanese customary law, created by Western legal terminology, to the Taiwanese to decrease their resistance to the new regime. Using foreign Japanese language to learn Western institutions in legal codes, the Taiwanese could only transplant modern law to a certain extent. This situation continued even after the Chinese Nationalist Party brought their Westernized legal codes to Taiwan in 1945. Since the 1970s, however, those Taiwanese legal scholars who were educated in postwar Europe, Japan, and the United States have actively translated contemporary Western laws to suit the needs of Taiwanese society. Accompanying the democratization of Taiwan in the 1990s, many local legal practices were incorporated in the legal codes originally enacted for Republican China. As Taiwan’s case shows, the spirit of modern law is transplanted to an East Asian country after its legal codes have been localized.

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