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Message from President

理事長 The Japanese Association of Sociology of Law (JASL) was founded in 1947, two years after the end of the Second World War. By that time, the sociological perspective of the law had become well accepted among Japanese legal scholars through Eugen Ehrlich's idea of the "living law". Ehrlich emphasized disparities between black letter law and effective social norms (these are what Pound later defined as "law in books" and "law in action"), which mirrored the pre-war Japanese situation, where there were huge gaps between imported Western-style laws and Japanese social realities. Searching for the "living law" in the Japanese society, Japanese scholars actively conducted field work in villages even during the war.
After the war, the sociology of law became synonymous with democratic movements. Kawashima's arguments on Japanese "legal consciousness" have been well known, but the huge popular appeal of his writings among Japanese academics cannot be properly understood without recognizing the democratic thrust of his arguments. Since the birth of the discipline, the sociology of law has produced studies related to social, political and institutional issues in Japan. As the tradition of research on the "living law" indicates, Japanese sociology of law began as an empirical academic inquiry. Although classic theories such as those of Marx, Durkheim and Weber, and modern theories such as those of Selznick and Luhmann, have been well accepted, Japanese sociology of law has almost always meant empirical inquiries of some kind. Today we see an increasing number of socio-legal researchers engage in quantitative and qualitative empirical studies in Japan. JASL members are interested in a broad range of topics, utilizing a variety of research methodologies. We are increasingly pursuing empirical and comparative studies. We welcome international collaboration. If you are interested in working with JASL members on comparative studies, please contact us. We would be delighted to assist you.
Welcome to the English version of the website for the Japanese Association of Sociology of Law (JASL)! Inaugurated in late 1999, during JASL's 52nd year, the website generally aims to provide information on the Association's many activities, including its development and future plans; and to provide original material as well as links to other resources relating to legal sociology. This English version is primarily for JASL members, numbering more than a thousand; but also others in Japan and around the world. It does not contain all information included in the Japanese version, but only that most relevant for those not fluent in Japanese. Readers with some fluency in Japanese can find more information on corresponding webpages in the Japanese version: generally, URLs for those webpages are the same as those for those given in this English version, but without the suffix "_e" added before ".htm". The webpages here are more or less direct translations, sometimes edited, or summaries of the original Japanese webpages; and some new material has been added just for this English version. As well as signposting material available in full on the Japanese version of the website, then, a main aim of this English version is to allow readers with no Japanese to get a feel for the JASL and legal sociology in Japan.

President Masao Murayama

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