The Civil Code of Japan (民法 Minpō, 1896) was created in 1896. It was heavily influenced by the German Civil Code and emphasized law and order over freedom. It has had a role in the development of civil law in several East Asian nations. It remained substantially unchanged even after the American occupation in 1945. Toa large extent it remains essentially intact as of 2006.
Civil law[edit | edit source]
Contracts[edit | edit source]
Japanese contract law is based mostly on the Civil Code, which defines the rights and obligations of the parties in general and in certain types of contract, e.g. "mandate contracts", "bailment contracts" etc. Thus, the parties need not restate these statutory presumptions. As a matter of practice, contracts in Japan tend to contain very little detail, with the parties working out complications as they arise. Japanese contract law was heavily influenced by the German BGB and is therefore part of the civil law legal system.
Torts[edit | edit source]
Japan's tort system sees considerably less activity than tort systems in North America. The principal reason for this is that damages are computed conservatively based on the plaintiff's proven expenses and losses, with only a small additional component for non-economic "pain and suffering". There is no system of pre-trial discovery, thus making it difficult for a plaintiff to establish causation. Because Japan does not use juries, judges decide the outcome of cases, and are usually not easy to sway emotionally. Attorneys' fees are based on the amount of damages sought in the suit, not the actual damages won. As a result of these factors, many individuals choose not to sue when their odds of winning seem low, and when they do sue, they tend to sue for small amounts of damages.
Property[edit | edit source]
Like several other civil law states, Japan places a great emphasis on the rights of the tenant, and landlords are generally not allowed to unilaterally terminate leases without "just cause," a very narrowly construed concept. Many landlords are forced to "buy out" their tenants if they wish to demolish buildings to make way for new development: one well-known contemporary instance is the Roppongi Hills complex, which offered several previous tenants special deals on apartments. In many cases, however, tenants' rights are circumvented by concluding leases in the name of the actual tenant's employer.