The Cultural (Re)Turn in Japanese Law Studies


  • Luke Nottage



Commemorating Professor Tony Angelo's tireless efforts and multiple achievements in translating legal rules, principles and cultures from abroad, including many from Japan, this article focuses on an ongoing project to translate selected works of a leading Japanese legal sociologist, Professor Takao Tanase. Part 2 locates Tanase's critical "hermeneutical" understanding of law and society, or of facts and norms, within various paradigms in the English-language world of "Japanese Law". These include a first wave of culturalist approaches; a model instead emphasising the institutional barriers to invoking the law in Japan; another model emphasising "elite management"; and a very different "economic analysis" of Japanese law-related behaviour. Tanase's work instead joins an emerging "hybrid paradigm" that takes more seriously new understandings and measures of culture `project. As Tony taught us only too well, interpreting foreign legalese can be hard enough. But the most difficult task often lies in conveying the way it is embedded in a broader socio-legal praxis and discourse abroad. These challenges will not go away even in our globalised world, thereby securing the future for comparative socio-legal scholarship.


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How to Cite

Nottage, L. (2008). The Cultural (Re)Turn in Japanese Law Studies. Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, 39(4), 755–778.