Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Rosie Harding

Conflict and Complementarities: A Critical Analysis of Rights Assertion in Japanese Law and Culture

Photo of Rosie Harding

Japanese law and legal culture is not without diverse and quality commentary and categorisation of the Japanese legal system into a jurisprudential ‘family’ has proved difficult to achieve satisfactorily. The perspective of much of Japan’s codified law has an arguably Western origin, which is not always compatible with the issues it affects. In Japan, traditional social norms are often inconsistent with its German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch-based civil code. However, there is little work beyond specific and concise observations on the specifics of this tension at the centre of Japanese legal culture in the context of rights jurisprudence.

The research project aims to investigate this conflict thoroughly, especially regarding the detail of internal conflicts underlying particular aspects of legal consciousness and systemics in Japan. Furthermore, the research will explore and critique the perception of the Japanese legal system as a hybrid, seeking to fully explore the terminology of this concept and how this is considered to apply to Japan. Arguments for the inappropriateness of this categorisation will be proposed on the basic notion that whilst Japan’s customary and legal principles do indeed often work concurrently and with little conflict, there is a troublesome absence of interaction between the two. It is initially contended this lack of contact is more threatening to the overall integrity of the system compared to a conflict, and literature from a wide range of perspectives, including historical, theological, sociological, legal and cultural, will be employed in pursuit of this argument.

The research project will explore aspects of Japanese social custom, including giri and on, for their role and significance in Japanese law and society and develop a detailed perspective of Japanese legal culture in this sphere. It will also analyse the relationship of the ‘received’ law from authorities in Japan and the ‘organic’ social customs from the people, including both conflicts and complements, and critique how these are reflected within a series of case studies, including the role of apology and its significance in remedy and liability, saibin-in (jury system) and hate speech. The research is intended to further develop and reinterpret current understandings on this subject, thereby refreshing the field of research with a contemporary comprehensive study.

Presently I am also a graduate teaching assistant, teaching seminars on the Criminal Law and Foundations of Law modules.

Published Work

R L Harding and A E Platsas, 'Japan as a postmodern legal reality' (2013) 21(1) University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review 1-30.


At the University of Derby I studied my LLB (Hons.) with Criminology undergraduate degree, followed by a Masters in International and Comparative Law, for which I was awarded a Distinction. Prior to joining the University of Leeds I worked in Student Wellbeing at the University of Derby and as a Teaching Assistant for the Law School.

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