Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Snake legs"

At the beginning of the Golden Week holidays, an article on the near irrelevance of the Japanese court system. This is pretty well known, courts have often found that the present government or past governments of WW2 era are in violation of the present constitution, or were guilty of war-related wrong-doings. The government then ignores the rulings.

Japanese courts have extremely limited powers to directly bring about change in the real world. Nobody in Japan seems to get thrown in jail for violating a court order, and when Japan's Supreme Court has repeatedly hinted that something may be unconstitutional — the geographical imbalance in Diet representation, for example — nothing much happens.

And those who criticize the system take big risks:

Judge Kaoru Inoue wrote about cases such as these in his book "Shiho no Shaberisugi" ("Blabbermouth Judiciary"), criticizing Japanese courts' practice of issuing rulings that he says have "dasoku" ("snake legs," or something that's useless). He was subsequently driven out of the judiciary — ostensibly for the reason that his judicial rulings were too short, causing complaints from litigants!

But none of this is really news. Perfect for a holiday. Article here.

(About 20 years ago when Japan still mattered internationally, there was some debate over whether it was or was not a real democracy. Don't know if that was ever settled, but we will have to admit that it passes for one.)

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