Learning the art of communication through arbitration moot

“There are things more important than just merely conveying what you want to say.”

Mikihisa Maruyama, third year student from the School of Law

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Maruyama and his team took part in a nationwide debate competition revolving international business transactions called Commercial Arbitration Moot in Japan, organized by the Academy for International Business Transactions. The team won the second prize and Maruyama won the Best Debater Award (Japanese Category).

In this article, Maruyama shares with us his experience at the Commercial Arbitration Moot in Japan.

Tell us more about the Commercial Arbitration Moot in Japan.
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Members who took part in the competition. Mayuyama stands at the front in the middle.

Arbitration is not a term Japanese people would find it familiar. It is a term used widely in the west to solve disputes in international business transactions. Before the actual day of competition, each team, which consists of four students, was given an approximately 60-page long English document to study. They then had to think about and form arguments as well as counter arguments based on the document. On the day of the competition, the teams were divided into the accuser team and defendant team and had to debate in front of the arbitrators.

The topic of debate this year was about a transaction on fan blade, which is an essential part of an airplane. My team took the role of the defendant and we brought up two issues – 1) Which foreign exchange rate (buyer’s or seller’s) should be used when concluding a contract? 2) Which party (buyer or seller) should bear the taxes incurred in a transaction?

When we were preparing for the competition, we had to go to the library at the Faculty of Law and National Diet Library to look for relevant resources. The whole process was really challenging as we had to look for, read and analyze resources in English. Our team worked really hard for a half a year. As I was really bad at English, I particularly studied very hard – I bought books on CNN news every month and had to frequently use a dictionary to read the news.

Why do you think you were awarded the Best Debater Award?
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Members who took part in the practice competition held in New York. Maruyama is the third student from the left.

I think it is because I particularly treated the conversation with arbitrators seriously and with great importance. A few days before the competition in Japan, I participated in a practice competition conducted in English in New York. As I am not good at English, I memorized my script and focused on getting what I had on the script across. The arbitrator, who is lawyer in American, told me after the competition that arbitration is not just about getting one’s message across. He advised me to treat arbitration as a two-way conversation. Indeed, no matter how good you are in debating, it has no meaning if the other party is not convinced. This practice competition has changed the approach I adopted in debating during the Commercial Arbitration Moot and I feel that this is the reason why I won the Best Debater Award.

How did you feel when your named was announced for the Best Debater Award?

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Our initial goal was to be the top team of the competition. However, my team ended up as the first runner up. Just when my team members and I were feeling really disappointed, my named was announced for the Best Debater Award. Of course I was happy when my named was announced, but somehow I felt vexing at the same time. I guess I could not say that I was 100% happy.

Why did you decide to join Professor Kubota’s seminar class?

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Since I was a high school student, I had always wanted to study law. As I am thinking about joining company after graduation, I wanted to study something more practical. And because Professor Kubota had experience working at a bank, I felt that I can learn a lot more from him and that is why I decided to join his seminar class.
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What are your future goals?

After joining the competition, I realized the importance of teamwork and it made me want to work in a big project team. I have not decided which industry I would want to work in, but I hope to do something that can contribute to the society at large. It might sound a bit abstract, but I want hope to be working in a field in which I can enrich the life of the people.

This year in November, I will be participating in the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition 2017. This time round, I hope that my team can win first prize. Additionally, I also want to win an individual award just like I did at the Commercial Arbitration Moot in Japan.
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Profile
Born in Tokyo, Mikihisa Maruyama graduated from Waseda University Senior High School. He belonged to the Japanese softball baseball club when he was in senior high school. Nowadays, he practices and plays it with his friend as a hobbit. After taking classes on physical education, he picked up golf. His favorite class at Waseda University is Professor Kubota’s seminar class. He is in-charge of screening year 2 students who will be joining Professor Kubota’s class this autumn (2017).

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