The Institute of Comparative Law (ICL) at Waseda University was established in 1958. The purpose of the institute is to conduct comparative research on the legal systems of Japan and other countries and to contribute to research and education in the field of Japanese legal studies. Working towards this goal, the Institute has been systematically collecting material on the legal systems of other countries, including their statutes, case reports, and law journals, to build one of Japan’s most impressive law libraries. With the development of Japan’s social and economic systems and the evolution of its legal system, our mission has expanded. We aim to disseminate information on the development of contemporary Japanese law and its legal system and to raise critical legal questions of universal importance for discussion from a Japanese perspective.
At present, the Institute has 110 research affiliates who are full-time faculty members at Waseda University and 151 adjunct researchers from outside. In addition, agreements have been concluded with the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; School of Law, Tsinghua University; Institute for Comparative and International Law, University of Melbourne; School of Law, Duke University; the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law; the Korea Legislation Research Institute; and University College London (UCL). Per the agreements, exchange researchers from these institutions are welcome to work with us at the institute. Scholars and researchers from other countries can visit the institute through such channels as the International Affairs Division of the university.
The institute conducts three different programs: specific or individual events, group research projects, and a multi-annual research that is carried out by the institute as a whole.
1) In terms of specific events, the institute holds open lectures on a semi-monthly basis for which it invites legal academics from around the world who are at the forefront of research in various fields of law. In addition, our research affiliates contribute articles to the annual journal, the Waseda Bulletin of Comparative Law, or to the online publication, Topics of Japanese Law. Both publish articles in English for readers worldwide, and the topics are related to the contemporary Japanese legal system, such as the recent Japanese legislation and important Japanese court judgments.
2) Concerning group research, 24 joint research projects are being conducted by the research affiliates and adjunct researchers who work together on comparative legal studies.
3) Since 2013, we have been conducting an institute-wide research project titled ‘The Role of Law and Legal Studies in the Transition to a Sustainable Society: From the Perspective of Regional Law in Asia’, and published “Law for Our Sustainable World: Promoting ‘Law and Sustainability'” edited by Tamio Nakamura in August 2020 as a result of that research. This project is based on a critical view of modern states and their societies, the rapid economic development of which is considered the premise of social development. However, the economic development has accelerated the depletion of natural resources and environmental deterioration. Thus, the project aims to determine a new role for law and legal studies that will be instrumental in bringing about a balance between the economy, society, and environment to achieve a transition to a sustainable society that protects the interest of future generations. Economic activities go beyond nation-states, and the social problems that result from these activities inevitably extend beyond national borders. Thus, an effective legal response to the problem would require legal measures and/or regimes at national, macro-regional, and global levels to work in a mutually reinforcing and complementary manner. In this research project, we have tried to conceptualize an Asian regional law/regime that will respond to some of the major cross-border problems. Since there is a lack of research on macro-regional legal responses in Asia, we would like to continue to promote a project for this research, referring to lessons and inspirations of the European Union and others.
The results of our various research projects are published regularly, in print and online. The print versions include our journal, Hikaku Hogaku (Comparative Law), our comparative law book series, Hikakuhokenkyujo Sosho, and our annual journal in English, the Waseda Bulletin of Comparative Law. We also publish online articles in English in Topics of Japanese Law. In addition, in 2016, we have started two new online publications, Waseda ICL Online Journal and Waseda ICL Online Forum.
The ICL aspires to be a unique forum that will strengthen ties between legal scholars in Japan and other countries through its diverse research activities. We welcome research proposals and initiatives as well as academic professionals from all over the world.
September 21, 2020
Link to Japanese page.