Law in Everyday JapanSex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes

Law in Everyday JapanSex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes

Mark D. West

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226894027

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Lawsuits are rare events in most people's lives. High-stakes cases are even less commonplace. Why is it, then, that scholarship about the Japanese legal system has focused almost exclusively on epic court battles, large-scale social issues, and corporate governance? This book fills a void in our understanding of the relationship between law and social life in Japan by shifting the focus to cases more representative of everyday Japanese life. Compiling case studies based on seven fascinating themes—karaoke-based noise complaints, sumo wrestling, love hotels, post-Kobe earthquake condominium reconstruction, lost-and-found outcomes, working hours, and debt-induced suicide—it offers a portrait of the way law intermingles with social norms, historically ingrained ideas, and cultural mores in Japan. Each example is informed by extensive fieldwork. The author interviews all of the participants—from judges and lawyers to defendants, plaintiffs, and their families—to uncover an everyday Japan where law matters, albeit in very surprising ways.