Hiroki OKAMOTO Professor

Department: Institute of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Class Time: 2011 Spring Thursday
Recommended for: School of Engineering

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Course Overview

  1. The basic structure of the legal system
  2. Basic knowledge of Criminal Law
  3. Basic knowledge of Civil Law
  4. Basic knowledge of modern legal issues

Key Features

In real society there exist various laws, all common to each other by the model of society that regulates people's normal social lives. However, for the development of society or economics, changes in the relationship between state vs. private, changes to the role of the state, the diversification/fragmentation/stratification/complication of private life etc., the area of each individual law is attributed a different role. Because of this, the fundamental idea or aim of each law is different, and so in order to know the characteristics of all the various laws, it is also necessary to take on board all the various fundamental ideas and aims. When I consider the flow of lectures or creating summaries, I first of all stress getting across the outlines of all such laws.

This particular course is aimed at those students studying engineering, and so not every student who takes this course is interested in law. As such, so that you can maintain your interest as much as possible while listening to the lectures, I plan their structure such that for particular legal areas I will emphasize examples of current trials, and on top of concretely showing what kind of problems are produced in those cases I will then move to more abstract explanations.

Also, even if students go to pains to memorize knowledge they cannot use without interest in that area, it is highly unlikely that there will be nothing left to study afterwards, and so I aim to only incorporate content that will be useful given current lifestyles.

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Teaching Aims

From when they are born to this world until death, humans conduct social lives with other human beings. Birth, going to kindergarten/nursery school, going to Elementary and Secondary schools and graduating, going to High School and graduating, entering employment or university and graduating, getting a driver's license, purchasing a car and driving it, participating in elections, paying taxes, buying or renting a house, marriage and childbirth, mutual help between parent and child, starting a business, divorce, bereavement, inheriting property etc. All of these things are going on linking us to other people. So that such everyday life can be supported by various laws, it is important to know the fundamental way of thinking of laws that crop up in day to day life. In these lectures we will study the fundamental knowledge of such laws.

Course Requirements and Recommended Courses




Course Schedule

Session Contents
1 Orientation – The significance for culture of studying Law –
2 What is “law”?
3 The current legal system
4 Outline of Constitutional Law
5 Fundaments of Human Rights
6 Outline of Administrative Law
7 Outline of Criminal Law
8 Outline of Criminal Procedure
9 Family Life and Law
10 Property and Law
11 Consumers and Law
12 Outline of Law of Succession
13 Outline of Intellectual Property
14 Video: “The Panel”
15 Recap and theme presentations


End of term exam 100%

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Lecture Handouts

Note: All files are in Japanese

Week 2
What is “law”? (PDF, 80KB)
Week 3
The current legal system (PDF, 123KB)
Week 9
Family Life and Law (PDF, 98KB)
Week 10
Property and Law (PDF, 106KB)
Week 11
Consumers and Law (PDF, 105KB)


The PDFs for the assignments can be found here (PDF, 144KB).

Choose one from the assignments listed below, and discuss from a legalistic point of view the propriety of the situation, and if you were X what would you contend, while showing provisions of any relevant laws. Please write approximately 3000 to 4000 characters.

Assignment 1

X has just entered a state high school. At this particular high school, a grade system has been adopted, where the students can advance to the next grade only after there is authorization at the end of each school year. According to the official rules concerning authorizing advancement or graduation at the school, in order to earn such authorization it is necessary to have passed all compulsory subjects, and on some subjects marked out of a hundred should a student get less than 55 he is considered to have failed. Also, except for students who are on a leave of absence, according to official rules concerning advancement students may not take the same year more than twice consecutively, and following the school regulations the headmaster is able to command students who were unable to progress more than once to leave the school.

At this high school, “Health and Physical Education” is compulsory for all grades, and for the first grade's physical education, kendo has been adopted. The kendo classes are compulsory for either the first or second semester, and make up 35 out of the 100 marks for the whole subject. However, because of X's beliefs, to participate in the practical skills of the combative sport kendo would fundamentally contradict his personal religious doctrine, and upon explaining to the teacher in charge that he couldn't participate in kendo on religious grounds, he proposed that he wanted to be allowed to write a report or essay as an alternative. However the school denied him this, and he was informed that should he not participate he would be treated as an absentee.

Whenever there was a kendo lesson, X would get changed, do the circuit training, attend the lecture and warm up, but when they moved on to the practical kendo he would not participate, instead sitting in the corner of the dojo recording the lesson for composing a report later on. Faced with this, the school decided to offer special kendo training provision for nonparticipants, and again, although X was advised to take part, he did not. As a result of this, the teacher in charge of physical education counted X as absent from the kendo lessons, and awarded him only 2.5 marks for completing the warm up. When this was combined with the other physical education classes X's final mark was 42. This meant that he was not authorized to advance to the next grade, and the school's headmaster detained him within the first grade, not allowing X to progress to second grade, and he also informed X's parents of this.

Even for the next year, X maintained the same attitude as the last, and because the school also reacted in the same way, his final mark for physical education was only 48. The school's headmaster decided that X, who hadn't attended even the supplementary kendo classes, was unauthorized to progress to the second grade and once again detained him within the first grade. Also, the Public Disciplinary Committee decided that the measure of forced retirement from school was appropriate, and the headmaster informed X, who had not left of his own accord, that he was expelled.

Assignment 2

X, which was a company that mainly bought and sold real estate, planned to build a block of apartments within the water supply limits of Y City's water board, and applied for 420 new residences to be connected. However Y City's water board regulations concerning applicants for new water connections state that “developments or constructions for more than 20 residences (20 households)” and “all residences in a construction of a residential complex that exceeds more than 20 residences (20 households)” will not be supplied, and on that basis the application was denied.

With that kind of background in mind, there were also the following circumstances. Y City, one of the nation's most overpopulated cities, was in a difficult situation to guarantee sufficient water provision from its exclusive water source, and there was no easy way out of such a problem. The water it received from the nearby governing body had also been cut off. Because of this, to cover demand Y City outsourced some water supply through contracts with those with agricultural water rights, but this is not something that is based on water rights acquired by fulfilling procedure of river laws, and even in practice acquiring water rights for the purposes of replenishing a city's water supply is extremely difficult. Also, these contracts recognized the priority of using the water for agricultural means, so at times when the river's water is low the city's supply would be limited, or even stopped.

Because of this kind of thing, Y City simply predicted that they would not be able to completely meet demand in the near future if they aimlessly reacted to new water supply applications, without adopting any other measures to try and meet demand for water they are able to both supply and guarantee.

Assignment 3

X stands accused of an incident of theft, and after a warrant was issued for his arrest (hereby known as “the warrant”), Assistant Inspector A and two other officers from Police Station O, in order to secure X's person, proceeded to enter into X's house without carrying the warrant. A and his team spotted X before entering, and tried to persuade him to come quietly of his own accord. However X, demanding to see their warrant, did not come quietly and suddenly fled, but was caught up by A and overpowered and arrested. X continued to resist, but all the while of being led to the police car, taken to Police Station O and even after arrival, he was never shown the warrant by the officers.

As for the arrest warrant, there is a police statement in the name of Officer A with the gist that on the day of the arrest around 8:25am at the scene A showed the warrant and then arrested X. Furthermore, the same police officer wrote an investigation report of the same gist on the same date. On the day he was arrested the accused complied with an optional urine sampling, and at the time he was not forced. Examining the urine sample police discovered traces of stimulants, and so after a number of days, a search and seizure warrant was issued that specified X's house as a place that should be searched, suspecting him of violating stimulant-control laws. This was enforced on the same day, in addition to the search and seizure warrant that had previously be issued to the accused concerning suspicion of theft. As a result of searching X's house, one plastic bag of stimulants was found and seized. Following these proceedings, X was tried and prosecuted of illegal possession of stimulants and theft.

Assignment 4

X, who is employed as an assistant in the medical faculty of a university-affiliated hospital, attributed poly-myeloma, a disease incurable with modern medicine, to the treatment of a hospitalized patient. Soon after, the condition of that patient worsened, making a snoring-like noise when he breathed and becoming completely unresponsive to pain stimuli. It was judged that he had one, perhaps two days to live. At that time, the patient's wife and eldest son again and again requested to X that treatment be discontinued, and after although protesting, he was made to remove the medical drip bags. Nevertheless, because the eldest son strongly insisted that it was “heart-breaking to listen to such snoring”, X then injected a tranquilizer that had the side effect of restricting breathing. Still with no change in the patient's condition, the eldest son angrily drew himself up, demanding why the patient was still breathing. X, feeling backed up against a wall, knowing he could quickly stop the breathing as he was demanded, stopped the patient's heart-lung machine, and the patient died. After this event, X was prosecuted for murder.

Assignment 5

Although Mr. and Mrs. X were expecting a child, Mrs. X was confirmed with having uterine cancer in the middle of her pregnancy, making a hysterectomy necessary, and as such they lost their baby. It wasn't just that Mrs. X could no longer produce children, but that her ability to sprout new life had been completely snatched away, and they were both irrevocably stricken with grief. With encouragement and advice from friends, Mr. and Mrs. X went abroad, and decided to arrange in vitro fertilization using the husband's sperm and one of the wife's eggs, which would then be implanted into the womb of another woman so that she would give birth for them. This surrogate birth went ahead without any problems, and the surrogate mother was paid a pre-arranged remuneration in exchange for Mr. and Mrs. X taking the baby. Returning to Japan, when the child was registered on the birth register as the child of Mr. and Mrs. X, the registration was denied.

Assignment 6

X, passed the exam for the University of Y, and received the pass notification and application papers in the post. In order to enter the University of Y, it was necessary to submit all the required paperwork and also ¥300,000 as a fee for entering the university, along with ¥500,000 as fees for the first semester's lessons, and the proviso given was that once paid, no matter what reason the student might give, this money will not be refunded. As per these university procedures, X paid the set fees and submitted the application forms. However, after that X passed the exam for a different national university, and before the new term started he refused to attend the University of Y, and entered the other university.

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Page last updated April 28, 2011

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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