Law in everyday life
Students usually enter university without a clear idea of what law is, since high school curriculums in Japan do not include law, unlike mathematics, physics, chemistry, political economy, or history. In addition, there is a popular impression that law is a specialized subject for highly specialized experts. Thus, high school students who choose to study law from among many options generally tend to be an adventurous minority.
We live in a legal society. We cannot satisfy our demands for food, clothing, and shelter without engaging in legal relationships with others. What connects us are not only genes, love and trust, but also legal relations. In contemporary society, legal relationships are indeed ordinary interactional and social relationships.
Waseda University’s School of Law offers a rich variety of introductory courses and seminars to familiarize new students with legal studies in order to emphasize the social aspect of law. How was law generated in human history? How have legal concepts been formulated under the influence of ideology, philosophy and economy? How did Japan accept (or not accept) the social, economic and philosophical background of the Western legal system? How have laws been transformed in contemporary society? We hope our students will tackle these questions with deep understanding of the historical, social and economic contexts. We believe that it is prerequisite for thorough understanding of letter of the law.
Cultivation of legal “judgment”: Interaction of professional education and liberal education
Our goal of legal education is to cultivate legal “judgment” (“Urteilskraft” in German). As Immanuel Kant states, the concept of “judgment” means the ability to connect universality with concreteness. In jurisprudence, by applying legal norms, which provide universal value and sollen, to the specific case, the legal “judgment” contributes to formulate the theory, which solves a particular case while extracting universality from concreteness. In order to cultivate legal “judgment”, the ability to discern properly the nature of a specific case is required. For this, it is necessary to cultivate the ability to understand social phenomenon by learning not only legal science but also general academic subjects. It is also essential to cultivate the ability to define the meanings and contents of legal norms as they are connected with other legal norms, and to apply them to particular cases, through the study of core law courses. The School of Law offers a rich selection of both core law classes and general academic classes essential to cultivate legal “judgment”. The cultivation of citizens with commitment to universal norms at all times is indeed to produce youth who will be responsible for developing Japanese social structure, which is considered to be a corporate society, into a mature civil society. This is one of the most important missions of the School of Law in Waseda University.
Law in regional and global spheres
We often hear that response to globalization is urgent. However, the phenomenon of globalization has primarily been the globalization of market economies. We need to realize that politics and law have not followed this phenomenon. This fact has led to uncontrolled economic conditions which brought about the financial crisis and global poverty and discrimination. To govern these uncontrolled states, it is necessary to foresee the establishment of legal regulations in the supranational, regional and global spheres. To foster people who can cope with these challenges is also one of our important missions. In filling in the scarcity of laws in the regional or global sphere, we are not painting on white canvas tabula rasa. In order to tackle these challenges, it is necessary to mutually understand the legal regimes and principles, which have been developed by individual nations first, and then to create norms by merging and integrating those regimes and principles. For that purpose, we have to understand legal regimes of other states in the historical context of the societies in which these regimes have been developed. We offer courses of foreign languages and regional studies that will help students reach such understandings.
Training of jurists and academics
Upon graduation many of our students enter the workforce. However, many others go on to our Law School or the Graduate School of Law, both of which are continuations of the School of Law. The Law School, as the institute to educate legal practitioners, produces many jurists with a firm sense of social duty. The Graduate School of Law sends legal academics, who study law from a theoretical perspective, into many universities all over Japan. The School of Law will aim for the establishment of a consistent research and educational program, which overcomes both the practitioners’ blindness to theoretical issues as well as the academics’ insufficient experience of practice, by having strong relationships with the two graduate-level programs.
New challenges to the Faculty of Law: Law and the transformation towards a sustainable society
It is time for us to transform from an industrial society to a sustainable society. History has seen two great transformations –one from the hunting and gathering society into an agrarian society, and the other from the agrarian society to an industrial society. Unlike these transformations, the transformation in this century cannot be completed as a process of natural evolution. It will not occur unless we humans plan and intentionally implement it. Therefore, a society moving towards a sustainable future requires us to gather all human wisdom to work out a transition to a sustainable society. In search of such a transformation based upon intelligence, the university will find that one of its raison d’êtres is serving as the centre for this transformation. Thus we must ask ourselves how law and study of law play a role in the transformation.
I hope you will join us in this challenge in our Building 8 of Waseda Campus, where you will meet your fellow students with unique talents.