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Laws of Japan before and after WW2

Just after feudalism, Japan's reform (Meiji Restoration) began in 1868. Legal concepts
established in Prussia had a significant impact on the Meiji reformers. France has played an
important role in various fields of law as well. Regarding the Prussian and French models of
legislation, the first new constitution and fundamental laws were adopted which may consist of
the civil legal system of Japan. However, the Constitution was repealed until World War II ends,
and several other rules were passed or revised. With the assistance of the Allied Occupation, the
United States had a major effect on this modern legislation. To empower the judicial system of
Japan, the United States proposed the method of judicial review to Japan. Consequently, the
Japanese legal framework is quite similar to that in Europe. However, the framework has been
influenced by US power and Japan's conventional beliefs.
Meiji Restoration a legal system in Japan before the World War II
With the dissolution of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration in the late
1800s, major legal changes were made in Japan. The Japanese people and policymakers soon
embraced the need to adopt Western jurisprudence as part of the development movement at the
start of the Meiji Era from 1868 till 1912, resulting in a relatively smooth legal change. Under the
control of western ideology, the Emperor declared the establishment of a Nation Diet which was
functioning just like a parliament in 1881, and the Emperor ‘granted' the subjects the first Japanese
Constitution which was also known as Meiji Constitution in 1889. The Meiji Constitution of Japan
was modeled after the constitution of Germany, with strong colonial sovereignty; the British and
French regimes were debated but rejected as being too moderate and nationalist. The male
population who pay a certain sum of the levy, around 1% of the population, voted in the lower
house elections.
Under the new administration and a latest statute, Japan started to overhaul the legal
structure comprehensively. The aim of the reformers was twofold: firstly, they are focused
to control under the new imperial government; and secondly, they are willing to "modernize" the
legislative framework and gain enough legitimacy to dismantle unjust treaties negotiated with
European governments.
Initial reforms of Japanese law were mainly centered on European civil law systems, with
some English and American common law concepts were enlightened in good measure. Ming and
Qing codes which are considered as Chinese criminal codes and former Japanese codes also
known as Ritsuryo were seen as frameworks at one stage but were eventually discarded. The legal
system of Japan with its primary models were based on Western legal systems, in which German
and French civil law was most frequently followed, though they were significantly changed before
implementation. The tension between the new rules and existing social tradition was also lessened
as a result of court decisions and eventual changes to the code. The Japanese Civil Code was based
on the draught of the German civil code-named Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch. As a result, historians
have suggested that the legal code of Japan consists of a derivative of Romano-Germanic civil law.
Under the Meiji period, surveillance rules and laws aimed at controlling democratic and
labor activities were enforced, restricting freedom of association. during the decade of 1920s,
legislation had been changed to provide for the execution of representatives of movements who
called for Marxism or a change in the imperial structure.
Likewise in the early years of the 20th century, there was a demand for more
representation, and many cabinet members were nominated by political parties. Previously, the
genro (Meiji Restoration leaders) would consult in private and nominate Prime Minister
contenders and members of the cabinet to the Emperor. The General Election Law at that time
removed property requirements and permitted virtually all men over the age of 25 to vote for
members of the lower house, while the House of Peers remained under the aristocratic rule. The
colonies, such as Korea, were never granted voting privileges, while colonial subjects after the
1925 reforms who came to Japan were eligible to vote.
Cabinets dependent on the politics of the party, on the other hand, were ineffective against
the Japanese military's growing intervention. The army and navy had cabinet positions, and their
failure to participate will cause the cabinet's abolition. The Diet was weakened by a string of
rebellions and coups, and by 1936, military dictatorship had taken over. Japan was changed into a
totalitarian regime after the Japanese conquest of China and the Pacific War, which lasted till
Japan's surrender in 1945.
Reforms in Japanese Laws after World War II
Following World War II, the Japanese government was monitored and dominated by
mostly American Allied armed forces. Under the supervision and direction of the Occupation
Authority, Japanese legislation has undergone significant change. The greatest dominance at
times was American law, which replaced and superimposed outdated laws and systems. The
Statute, criminal code, employment conditions, and business law, both of which are critical to the
enforcement of civil rights, have all been changed significantly. Social justice, schooling,
democratic governance, socio-economic transformation, and rural development were also adopted
as major changes.
The contemporary Japanese Constitution declared that the citizens had independence,
relieved the Emperor of his democratic right, and increased the powers of the Diet, which would
be chosen by majority rule. In addition, the Constitution forbade war, established a Declaration of
Rights and freedom, and established judicial review. In terms of gender discrimination, women
were given the right to vote for the first time in the 1946 referendum, and clauses of the Civil Code
related to family law and inheritance were progressively amended. Labor unions were legalized,
the educational sector was improved, and corporate conglomerates also known as Zaibatsu were
abolished as a result of legislation. Japan, on the other hand, kept the civil law legal code and did
not follow the American common law system.
As a result, today's Japanese judicial framework is a combination of civil and common law
systems, with heavy "flavors" from traditional Japanese and Chinese attributes. Though historical
facets of Japanese law are still operational today, it is still a complex structure that has experienced
significant reforms and changes in the last two decades.
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