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The Legal Training and Research Institute was established in May 1947 under the provision of Article 14 of the Court Act (Act No. 59 of 1947) as a training facility affiliated to the Supreme Court of Japan. The institute is in charge of the research and the training of judges, and the judicial training of legal apprentices. The professors of the institute carry out research and training activities under the control of the President.
Judges pursue judicial work abiding by the constitution, laws and their own conscience, as bearers of judicial power (Article 76 of the Constitution), and thus they are required to have not only the expertise and ability relating to judicial practice but also a well-rounded education and profound insight. In order to support these judges in cultivating themselves and acquiring these accomplishments while engaging in their daily duties, the institute implements various research and training programs.
In Japan, those who wish to enter the legal profession must first pass the National Bar Examination, then be appointed as legal apprentices (Article 66(1) of the Court Act), and finally complete the requisite judicial training courses (Article 67(1) of said Act). The institute also takes charge of implementing and managing such training of legal apprentices as an essential national agency responsible for nurturing persons entering the legal profession.
July 1939:The “Legal Research Institute” was established in the Ministry of Justice (Shihosho)*
*(note):The “Legal Research Institute” served as a facility in charge of directing research conducted by magistratures (judges and public prosecutors) as well as the training of audiences of magistrature, but its activities were in effect suspended during the Second World War. After the end of the war, the “Legal Research and Training Institute” temporarily existed in the Ministry of Justice (Shihosho), replacing the “Legal Research Institute”.
May 1947:The Legal Research and Training Institute was established as a training facility affiliated to the Supreme Court of Japan
June 1948:Moved to Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
April 1971:Moved to Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
April 1994:Moved to Wako-shi, Saitama
Judges need the expertise and ability relating to judicial practice, a well-rounded education and profound insight. While engaging in their daily duties, they strive to cultivate themselves so as to acquire these accomplishments.
In addition, in order to gain diverse and abundant knowledge and abilities, it is neces-sary not only to rely on the efforts of individual judges but also to provide them with the opportunity to receive organized training programs. From this perspective, the Legal Training and Research Institute implements various initiatives to help these judges with their efforts toward self-cultivation, including: Introductory Training Courses upon assuming new duties or posts; Fields-Specific Workshops which aim to encourage judges to find areas of specialty and to acquire and enhance expertise in their specialized fields; Comprehensive Workshops for supporting judges in an effort to achieve proper judicial practice as expected by providing judges with the opportunity to study various issues that do not directly fall within the category of law and so forth ; and Dispatch-style Training Courses conducted at private corporations and other entities outside the courts.
The institute implements training programs for judges (including assistant judges and summary court judges) throughout the year. In recent years, a total of about 1700 judges have participated in these programs annually.
Introductory Training Courses are provided for judges, assistant judges and summary court judges upon their appointment or assumption of new duties or posts.
(1) Introductory Training Courses for assistant judges
With the goal of firmly establishing the foundation for their role as judges and making the necessary preparation to acquire expertise, assistant judges participate in training courses which support their independent and self-sustaining development, through self-cultivation activities and on-the-job training.
Assistant judges, immediately after their appointment, participate in the Training Courses for Newly Appointed Assistant Judges to learn the basic attitudes they should take as judges and to acquire the basic knowledge and skills required in judicial practice. After having served the office for about two years, they participate in the workshops to learn the basic skills to manage trials (Basic Training Courses for Assistant Judges).
After these introductory training courses, the institute continues to support their independent and self-sustaining development by holding workshops, which focus on fields-specific judicial issues (see 2).
(2) Introductory Training Courses for judges
Judges who are appointed from among assistant judges participate in the Training Courses for Newly Appointed Judges which support them in fully fulfilling their role as mid-career judges.
In addition, judges who have been assigned to new posts, such as the presiding judge of a division and the chief of branch office, participate in the workshops focusing on the training in organizational and personnel management (Workshops for Presiding Judges of Divisions, Workshops for Chiefs of Branch Office). In these workshops, they listen to lectures on the management issues and join in the discussions on the administration of court divisions and branch offices.
(3) Introductory Training Courses for summary court judges
Summary court judges, after their first appointment, participate in the training programs at the summary courts to which they are assigned, and take Introductory Training Courses consisting of two stages at the institute. Training courses, which aim to improve their skills to manage trials, include practical trainings by using mock case records as materials, practices in trial management and mock trials.
After having served office for two years since first appointment, summary court judges participate in the Basic Workshops where they have discussions about judicial practice and what judges should be. For those who have accumulated longer years of experience, the institute continues to support their independent development by holding Practical Workshops, which include joint research on trial management.
Workshops held for respective specific fields can be categorized into two types: the Basic-Field Workshops which aim to help judges in finding areas of specialty and the Specialized-Field Workshops which aim to help them in acquiring and enhancing expertise.
(1) Basic-Field Workshops
These Workshops address basic types of case, such as civil, criminal, domestic, and juvenile cases. Topics are chosen according to the needs of the time, and judges who actually deal with such types of cases exchange opinions and hold discussions on such topics. This Workshop is intended to help judges to find areas of specialty.
At the Workshops, judges participate in various training curriculums, including joint discussions among judges, lectures given by leading experts, and exchange of views with practicing attorneys and public prosecutors regarding the management of trials.
Within the framework of this workshop, participants also conduct joint research with court clerks and family court probation officers.
(2) Specialized-Field Workshops
In recent years, disputes brought to courts have become increasingly diversified and specialized. In order to appropriately respond to such a situation, judges as a whole must be well-versed in diverse fields and equipped with advanced expertise.
The institute holds Workshops focusing on cases which require expert knowledge on finance and economics, medicine, building and construction, and information technology, as well as criminal cases, administrative cases, labor cases, cases relating to intellectual property rights, etc.
Various training curriculums are organized for this program, such as lectures given by experts, round-table talks with experts, and exchanges of views on trial management issues with practicing attorneys with expert knowledge on a specific area of law.
Participants sometimes visit medical institutes to receive specific lectures and so on.
In addition to those Fields-Specific Workshops, the institute also organizes training programs in order to study various issues surrounding courts, without categorizing them by field.
Workshops on Foundation of Justice aim to investigate the interaction between judicial practice and society as well as the socio-economic structures underlying the cause of disputes. Through these Workshops, judges are expected to have broader perspectives and deeper insights.
The curriculums of these Workshops contain a variety of activities, such as panel discussions, field visits and lectures, and a wide range of topics have been covered, e.g. human rights, urban problems, and mental and physical health.
Special Workshops are also held to provide training on how to deal with organizational problems within the courts and training for judges who are dispatched to teach as professors at law schools.
Judges visit private corporations and other entities outside the courts for a certain period of time and observe and experience the business practices carried out there. The aim of these training courses is to provide judges with the opportunity to improve their understanding on the actual condition of the economy as well as to broaden their perspectives and deepen their insights which judges are required to have.
There are various types of training courses, including short-term training courses at private corporations and training courses at media organizations (for judges), long-term training courses at private corporations (for assistant judges), and special training courses on intellectual property rights (for judges and assistant judges).
At present, about 50 judges (including assistant judges) are dispatched, under the scheme of these training courses, to many private companies and media organizations each year, thanks to the cooperation of the relevant entities.
In Japan, in order to enter the legal profession, it is required, in principle, to complete Law School, which is a professional graduate school, to pass the National Bar Examination, and to complete a one-year training course of legal apprentices (Notes 1 to 3). This course is indispensable, and is intended to develop legal professions who have the knowledge and skills relating to a wide range of legal practices as well as high professionalism and ethical standards, based on the legal theory and basic practical groundings that they have acquired at law schools. Those who pass the final national examination and complete training course are qualified to become assistant judges, public prosecutors or practicing attorneys.
While Law Schools provide distinctive education in different styles, the training of legal apprentices is implemented based on the common curriculum applicable to all those who are to become judges, public prosecutors and practicing attorneys. (It is generally referred to as a unified training system.) This unified training system, into which the old training system for the magistratures (judges and public prosecutors) and the old training system for practicing attorneys was integrated, has been adopted as Japan’s consistent policy for legal training system since the training system for legal apprentices started in 1947. Under this system, while learning the viewpoints from which the respective types of legal professions examine cases, legal apprentices can acquire a broad perspective and improve their ability to see things fairly and objectively. It is also conductive to enhancing mutual understating among legal professions. With these advantages, the unified training system is unique when compared internationally, and has been highly evaluated in Japan.
Note 1: Following the reform of the legal training system based on the recommendations of the Judicial System Reform Council in FY2001, the Law School system started in 2004 and the first new National Bar Examination was implemented in 2006. Since then, the new training of legal apprentices has been conducted for those who have passed the new examinations. Along with the further advancement in the elimination and relaxation of national regulations and the changes in socio-economic circumstances at home and abroad, the law and the judiciary are expected to play a more important role in creating a society with more freedom and fairness. In light of such a situation, the reform was carried out with the objective of developing a number of legal professions equipped with advanced legal expertise, a wide-ranging education, a global perspective, a well-rounded character and professional ethics, who are capable of meeting a variety of requests from the public (see Article 2 of the Act on Coordination between Education at Law Schools and National Bar Examinations, etc. (Act No. 139 of 2002)).
Note 2: Education at Law Schools, the National Bar Examinations and the training of legal apprentices are implemented through effective coordination among them (see said Article).
Note 3: Those who passed the old National Bar Examinations are deemed to have passed the new National Bar Examinations (Article 10 of the Supplementary Provisions of the Act for Partial Revision to the National Bar Examination Act and the Court Act (Act No. 138 of 2002)).
Legal apprentices who are to be appointed by November 2010 by passing the old National Bar Examinations shall participate in the training based on a different schedule and curriculum than those explained above (see Article 11(2) of the Supplementary Provisions of said Act.)
Legal apprentices receive practical education on legal practices under the guidance of legal professions who have a wealth of experience, so as to acquire the knowledge and skills required in legal practices. The aim of this training is for legal apprentices to cultivate the all-round basic capability to deal with complicated and diversified legal problems that occur in today’s society. Legal professions are required to have high ethical standards and professionalism because they directly deal with issues that may affect the rights of citizens. For this reason, legal ethics is regarded as one of the priority subjects in the training of legal apprentices.
In particular, as an effective style of teaching practical skills and legal ethics, much emphasis is placed on field training. Through field training, legal apprentices experience how to deal with actual cases under the tutorial guidance and supervision of their seniors. By using actual cases as materials, legal apprentices can learn the seriousness of the cases and the gravity of the responsibility entrusted to the legal professions. In this respect, field training is an indispensable course for fostering legal professions.
Legal apprentices are appointed by the Supreme Court of Japan from among those who have passed the National Bar Examination.
Those who have been appointed as legal apprentices have the legal obligation to devote themselves to training, which means that they must put all their energy into training during the training period. They are also under the legal obligation to keep official secrets, as general legal professions are, since they use actual cases as learning materials.
In order to ensure that they can fulfill the obligation to devote themselves to training, they are eligible to receive loans from the national treasury for the period ordinarily required for training. (Note)
Note: As a transitional measure, legal apprentices who are to be appointed by November 2010 will be eligible to receive salaries and allowances from the national treasury.
When the system started, about 100 persons were appointed as legal apprentices per year, but subsequently, the number gradually increased along with the sophistication and increase in complexity of society as well as the growth in demand for legal services, and reached about 1,500 in 2005. According to a recent cabinet decision, the government will aim to increase the number of persons who pass the National Bar Examination per year to about 3,000 by around 2010, while assessing the developments in Law Schools and other new legal training systems.
Under the new training of legal apprentices has introduced in FY2006, the one-year training course consists of eight months of field training of each judicial function, two months of field training based on legal apprentices’ choices, and two months of collective training.
(1) Field training of each judicial function
This training mainly consists of the experience-based activities in which legal apprentices, at the front lines of legal practices, i.e. district courts, district public prosecutors offices and bar associations, learn how to deal with actual cases under the tutorial guidance of vastly experienced legal profession. It targets four functions of justice, namely civil trial, criminal trial, public prosecution, and advocacy (including criminal defense), for two months on each field.
In the civil or criminal trial training, legal apprentices attend the court to observe judicial proceedings and judges’ trial management at close hand, to examine the records in the pending cases, to discuss the content of judgments with judge, to submit reports to judges concerning factual or legal issues in the respective cases and to receive their comments.
The prosecution training provides legal apprentices with the opportunity to study by experiencing the procedures relating to criminal investigations, such as collecting evidences and examining suspects and witnesses, under the guidance of advising prosecutors, and to state their opinions on whether or not to prosecute the suspects. Legal apprentices also observe the public prosecutor’s attendance at trial proceedings.
In the advocacy training, legal apprentices receive guidance from their tutorial attorneys, while attending legal counseling and court proceedings, drafting various legal documents and receiving comments, and experiencing the activities of bar associations.
(2) Field training based on legal apprentices’choices
After finishing training courses in the above-mentioned four judicial functions legal apprentices receive various trainings that are chosen and designed according to their own career plans and interests. The objective of this training is to enhance and complement their achievements in the field training of each function, or to experience practical activities that they cannot experience in field training of each function. This is a new training phase introduced in the new training of legal apprentices.
Setting their base at the law offices where they received advocacy training, legal apprentices take various regional training programs provided by district courts, district public prosecutors offices or bar associations, as well as training programs all legal apprentices nationwide may choose. They can also find the places, by themselves, where they wish to receive training in the areas closely related to the legal profession.
(3) Collective training
In order to provide systematic and versatile practical education which can complement the experience gained through field training and to teach standard judicial practices, collective training is conducted at the institute for a period of two months. After finishing all the field training of each function, whether individual legal apprentices first receives collective training or field training based on their choices depends on the places where he/she received the field training.
Collective training consists of five subjects of justice, namely, civil trial, criminal trial, public prosecution, civil advocacy practice, and criminal advocacy practice. The professor in charge is assigned to each class, and five professors in total (one for each subject) provide substantial lectures and appropriate guidance for individual legal apprentices.
The main activity in the collective training is to prepare drafts by using case records arranged for the training purpose based on the actual case records (mimic records for training). Such drafts are subject to corrections and reviews by professors and are also used as topics of debates among legal apprentices.
After having finished both the field training based on their own choices and the collective training, legal apprentices take a final national examination at the end of the training period, and those who pass this examination finish the training of legal apprentices and obtain qualification as assistant judges, public prosecutors or practicing attorneys.