Lawsuits are rare events in most people's lives. And high-stakes cases are even less commonplace. Why is it, then, that scholarship concerning the Japanese legal system has focused almost exclusively on big topics like corporate law and large-scale social issues? Mark D. West's Law in Everyday Japan fills a void in our understanding of the relationship between law and social life in Japan by shifting the focus to cases most representative of everyday Japanese life. Compiling case studies based on seven fascinating themes - karaoke-based noise complaints, sumo wrestling, love hotels, post-Kobe earthquake condominium reconstruction, lost-and-found outcomes, working hours, and debt-induced suicide - Law in Everyday Japan offers a vibrant portrait of the way law intermingles with social norms, historically ingrained ideas, and cultural mores in Japan. Each example is informed by extensive fieldwork. West interviews the participants - from judges and lawyers to defendants, plaintiffs, and their families - to uncover an everyday Japan where law matters, albeit in very unexpected ways.
Mark D. West is the Nippon Life Professor of Law and director of the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan. He is coauthor of Economic Organizations and Corporate Governance in Japan.