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Message from the Director of Hitotsubashi University School of Law
The ideal of institutional reforms and our desire to put our educational philosophy into practice
In 2004, the law school system was commenced as part of the reformation of the judicial system. Hitotsubashi University School of Law was also founded at this time. This reformation of the judicial system essentially constituted the democratization of the judiciary. While the system of lay judges and other initiatives are also attempts at democratization, it should be noted that legal professionals used to be selected under the system for training legal professionals through the old, exceptionally challenging, national bar exam. As long as the legal profession is dominated by a tiny group of elite members selected on such a make-or-break basis, however, legal services will pose high barriers to access for most citizens. In this connection, law schools were established as a system that allows more diverse classes of students to be carefully and progressively taught over a period of two or three years.
In subscribing to this ideal, Hitotsubashi University School of Law has set forth its own goals in accordance with an educational philosophy—as enshrined in Hitotsubashi University’s Charter of Research and Education—of educating visionary specialists, rational reformers, and political and economic leaders: (1) to cultivate lawyers versed in business law, (2) to cultivate lawyers with an international outlook, and (3) to cultivate lawyers imbued with respect for human rights. Goals (1) and (2) are rooted in the fact that Hitotsubashi University was historically a business school where students who would go on to serve as leaders in the world of business were educated. Goal (3) has been a longstanding objective of the Faculty of Law at Hitotsubashi University. These goals resulted from a process of reconciling Hitotsubashi’s educational philosophy with the ideal of judicial system reforms.
Various efforts are being carried out by Hitotsubashi University School of Law to attain these goals. A significant educational feature of these efforts is an approach that involves teaching eighty-five first-year students by dividing them into two classes. (The first-year class of students with no previous background in legal studies consists of twenty-five students.) With such class sizes that are neither too large nor too small, instructors can teach students at a more familiar interactive level while students can better encourage and help each other through friendly competition, such that an environment in which everyone can strive towards the attainment of these goals has been put into place.
Our ultimate goal is not to get our students to simply pass the bar exam. Instead, it is to get our students to lead the legal world as legal professionals in possession of the three aforementioned qualities and to form a broad-minded, dynamic legal foundation of freedom and fairness needed by society. This will lead to reformation of the judicial system as referred to at the beginning of this message. The very activities performed by legal professionals after they study at law school and pass the new bar exam (the old bar exam was also revamped) will help shape a world of law that is no longer stifling and closed. This in turn will gradually cause this ideal to become a reality. The emergence of new legal professionals has created an atmosphere representing a clean break from the past. It is into this mix that Hitotsubashi University School of Law will produce many individuals suitable for meeting the challenges of this new order. We aim to continue to devote ourselves to research and education in accordance with the ideal of system reforms and the educational philosophy of Hitotsubashi University.
Director, Hitotsubashi University School of Law