Washington Law Review


Howard Meyers


With the coming into force of the new Constitution of Japan on May 3, 1947, the Criminal Code had to be revised to excise those provisions which were contrary to the Constitution, since Article 98 of that document declared that such provisions had no legal force or validity. A Legislative Investigation Committee was appointed by the Japanese government, composed of leading judges, law professors, procurators, and officials of the Ministry of Justice. The writer worked with members of this group, as the representative of SCAP (Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers). The first and principal Code revision was submitted in order to comply with the terms of Article 98 of the Constitution, but was not regarded as the final one, for there remained many problems of criminology and modernization which were not part of the constitutional question, and which could be pursued at a later date without thought of the pressure of time. The rest of this article is concerned with the first and most basic of the revisions: the Law for the Partial Amendment of the Criminal Code (Law No. 124 of 1947), promulgated in the first session of the National Diet on October 26, 1947, and taking effect the fifteenth day of November. Besides being the most extensive of the Criminal Code revisions, this law infused into the stream of Continental law, which is the major factor in the pattern of Japanese jurisprudence, a number of Anglo-American legal concepts. For purposes of discussion, the revisions made by this law are divided into two groups: (A) those amendments which are most radical in their divergence from the old Code provisions, making basic changes; (B) those amendments primarily technical in scope, affecting the application of the law rather than changing essential principles.

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