Campus Author: The Japanese Supreme Court and Judicial Review

David S. Law, JD, PhD, professor of law and professor of political science, has published a groundbreaking book on the Japanese judiciary and constitutional adjudication in Japan, titled The Japanese Supreme Court and Judicial Review (Gendaijinbunsha, 2013).


By global standards, the Japanese Constitution is now considered relatively old at 66 years, yet it remains “one of the most up-to-date” and “squarely in the mainstream of global constitutionalism,” according to Law. He points out that, while the Japanese Constitution protects 19 of the “most popular constitutional rights” in the world, the U.S. Constitution includes only 12. For example, unlike the U.S. Constitution, the Japanese Constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sex or social status, protects academic freedom, and contains a right to education.

Although Japan is among the growing number of countries that entrust their courts with special responsibility for upholding democracy and the rule of law by enforcing the constitution, Japan’s Supreme Court has fallen short of discharging this important responsibility, Law argues.
Despite the Nihonkoku Kenpō’s modernism and popularity, Law writes that “it is difficult to think of any constitutional court in the world that is more reluctant to exercise the power of judicial review . . . than the Japanese Supreme Court.” In its history, the Supreme Court of Japan has struck down only eight statutes on constitutional grounds.

Read more, including Law’s explanation for the Japanese high court’s failure to actively enforce the constitution, at: