Supreme Court of Japan > The Legal Training and Research Institute of Japan > The Legal Training and Research Institute of Japan
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
Training and Research of Judges
Judges (including assistant judges and summary court 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 necessary 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 throughout the year to help these judges with their efforts toward self-cultivation. Specifically, training and research for judges and assistant judges include workshops concerning judicial proceedings in each trial field (judicial courses), workshops for introductory purposes for judges assuming new posts (introductory courses), and workshops focused not on the legal field itself but on the background society and economy and the adjacent natural science-related regions (fundamental courses). Workshops in judicial courses and introductory courses are also held for summary court judges. Additionally, dispatch-style training courses conducted at private corporations and other entities outside the courts are also prepared for judges and assistant judges.
1 Joint Training and Research Targeting Judges and Assistant Judges
Workshops in judicial courses focus on judicial proceedings. The institute holds four types of workshops for each field of civil cases, criminal cases, domestic relations and juvenile cases:(i) Foundation workshops; (ii) Basic workshops; (iii) Practical workshops; and (iv) Specialized 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, information technology, building and construction, medicine, administrative cases, labor cases, cases relating to intellectual property rights, etc.
Workshops in introductory courses are provided when judges have acquired a certain level of experience or have newly assumed a post or a certain responsibility.
For assistant judges, training is provided to support their independent and self-sustaining development, through self-cultivation activities and on-the-job training, with the goal of having them firmly establish the foundation for their role as judges and make necessary preparation to acquire expertise.
Specifically, assistant judges, immediately after their appointment, participate in the training courses 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 and basic knowledge on the organization.
Judges who are appointed from among assistant judges participate in the training courses which support them in fully fulfilling their role as mid-career judges. In addition, judges who have been assigned to new posts, participate in the workshops focusing on the training in organizational and personnel management.
Workshops in fundamental courses aim to motivate judges to enhance their general quality and ability through having them obtain knowledge not on the legal field itself but on the background society and economy and the adjacent natural science-related regions, thereby broadening their views or deepening their thoughts.
Specifically, there are workshops concerning the interaction between judicial practice and society as well as the socio-economic structures underlying the causes of disputes, and workshops designed to encourage young judges to recognize anew the importance of reflecting on things deeply and motivate them to cultivate themselves to this end.
2 Joint Training and Research Targeting 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. After having served office for about two years since their first appointment, summary court judges participate in the workshops where they have discussions about judicial practice and what judges should be as part of the introductory courses.
For those who have accumulated longer years of experience, the institute continues to support their independent development by holding workshops, which include joint research on trial management.
3 Dispatch-style Training Courses
Judges and assistant judges are also provided with opportunities to visit private corporations and other entities outside the courts for a certain period of time and positively engage in and experience business practices carried out there. The aim of these training courses is to have participants improve their understanding on the actual conditions of the society and economy as well as to broaden their perspectives and deepen their insight as required for judges.
Dispatch-style training courses were commenced in 1982 and have been expanded with the launch of new courses thanks to the cooperation of relevant entities. At present, diverse types of companies not only in Tokyo but also in Osaka, Nagoya and other cities offer cooperation for the training.
At present, about 50 judges (including assistant judges) are dispatched, under the scheme of these training courses, to many private companies and media organizations, and other organizations, each year.
Training of Legal Apprentices
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.)
1 Features of the training of legal apprentices
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.
2 Legal apprentices
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.
3 Contents of the new training of legal apprentices
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.
Advisors to the Legal Training and Research Institute
The Institute has put in place an advisor system as a mechanism to incorporate external experts’ opinions on judicial training and research since April 2017.
1 Purpose of the advisor system
It is necessary to further enhance the structure and content of each judicial training and research in order to respond to complication of the social conditions and development of social science and technology.
Therefore, the Institute has put in place an advisor system as a mechanism to incorporate mid- and long-term perspectives, diverse and candid opinions including the viewpoint of social-science that is not limited to the legal field, broadly from intellectuals with great insight and far-ranging vision.
2 Advisory Panel
The President of the Institute shall commission advisors from among the persons with excellent insight.
3 Member of the Panel
At present, 6 advisors has been commissioned by the President of the Institute.