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The role of case law in Japan : a comparative study of Japanese and Canadian company law Imai, Hiroshi


The relationships between case law and statue law in Japan are quite different from that in Anglo-Canadian law. Contrary to the literal interpretation adopted by the Anglo-Canadian courts, the Japanese courts use extremely flexible interpretative techniques. There are relatively frequent changes in precedents. Therefore, case law plays an important role in the development of law in Japan. This paper is intended to introduce the role of case law in Japan to foreigners who study or work with Japanese law. First, the characteristics of the Japanese case law are discussed. Stress is put on the private law area, where the creative function of case law is the most evident. The historical background and problems of the Japanese approach are also mentioned. Then this paper compares and contrasts Canadian and Japanese approaches on five selected topics of company law, in order to show the role of the Japanese case law in actual issues in comparison to the frequency of Canadian legislative reforms. By combining the general discussion of the Japanese case law and the discussions of specific issues, it is intended to enable foreign readers to have a better understanding of the reality of Japanese case law and to facilitate their further study.

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