Japanese Legal Research at the University of Washington
ワシントン大学の法律学校アジア法学部門での 日本の法律研究

Updated February 18, 2016 | Please send comments to Rob Britt: rrbritt@uw.edu


Information about the Japanese Law Collections

  • Objectives of this Guide
    • To introduce some of the most useful resources for finding Japanese legal information in English, Japanese, and other languages, and to provide some useful hints about the best ways to make use of them.
    • To provide an introduction to the University of Washington East Asian Law Department of the Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library and the kinds of services we provide.
  • History
    The Japanese law collection had its beginnings in the 1930's with gifts to the library of Japanese legal materials, including a substantial donation of books by the Ministry of Justice in Japan. Statistics for library expenditures stretching back to the 1940's show a sustained commitment to building on these early foundations. A substantial Ford Foundation grant to the Law School in 1961 provided the initial impetus for the Asian Law Program, setting aside funds for library development and enabling the appointment in 1962 of the first full-time faculty member in Asian law. The library has continued to add to its Japanese law collection ever since. It keeps long runs of periodicals, and also continues to add to its fine collection of treatises in Japanese on a wide range of subjects related to Japanese law.
  • Statistics
    There are about 32,595 Japanese volumes in the collection. The collection includes roughly 13,525 monographic titles and 250 periodical titles in Japanese.
  • Collection Development Policy
    The overall goal of the Gallagher Law Library's Collection Development Policy is to "support the curricular and research needs of the University of Washington School of Law." With this in mind, the collection development policy for Japanese law stresses the collection of legal materials of an academic nature on a wide variety of topics concerning law in Japan. Materials on Japanese law are collected in any language, but the primary emphasis is for materials in English and Japanese. Primary materials (Statutes and Cases) and legal periodicals, including law reviews and commercial publications are given a high priority, and academic treatises on the law of Japan are also collected intensely. Subjects of particular interest to faculty members are given special attention.

Notes about Romanization (Transliteration) of Japanese

  • In the Library Catalog
    Outside Japan, Japanese text is often written using the roman alphabet (ABCs). Converting Japanese text to the roman alphabet is referred to as "Transliteration" or "Romanization."

    There are various standardized schemes for romanization. The scheme approved for use in North American Library catalogs is based on the Hepburn romanization system used in Kenkusha's new Japanese-English dictionary (see chart, page xiii of Kenkyusha's new Japanese-English Dictionary.) Examples:
    Romanization in Library Catalog


    chiteki zaisan

    NOT titekizaisan or titeki zaisan



    NOT Kempo, or Kempou, or kempoh


    Katō, Masaharu

    NOT Katoh, Masaharu (Names in the library cataloged are all indexed by the family name.)


    Shihō kenkyū

    NOT Sihō kenkyū or shihou kenkyuu

Note that when searching the library catalog, diacritics (such as the "macron" or long mark used in Japanese romanization) should not be input.

Word division Used In Library catalogs
(Based on rules established by the U.S. Library of Congress)

Spacing of romanization in Library Catalog


Minji Soshōhō

(Not minji soshō hō)

A single character modifier is treated as part of the two character word that precedes it


Nihonjin ron

(Not Nihonjinron)
A single character modifier is separated by a space from a three character word that precedes it

  • Romanization used in other Indexes and Catalogs
    (And sometimes the Library catalog) Is not always consistent. In some cases, romanization schemes are inconsistently applied within one index or catalog. So when searching for romanized Japanese text, it is a good practice to use the browse function if it is available, and/or try different romanization and word division possibilities.

Overview of the Japanese Legal System
(See Also Court System on the Web Resources page)

Comparison of Types of Legal Workers in Japan and the US

Legal Worker Type (Japanese)

Legal Worker Type (English)
(Click Links for Related Websites, etc.)

U.S. Equivalent


(Hōmu Daijin)
Minister of Justice  Attorney General of the United States  
Judge Judge  
Prosecutor Prosecutor  
Attorney Attorney  
(Shihō Shoshi)
Judicial Scrivener Notary/Paralegal Requires special training and test.  Complex duties;  Often handle matters handled by attorneys in the U.S.
(Gyōsei Shoshi)
Administrative Scrivener Notary/Paralegal [Same as above]
Patent Attorney Patent Attorney See Japan Patent Attorneys Association
Comparing the U.S. and Japanese Court Systems

(Japanese Name)

(English Name)

Similar U.S. Court


(Saikō Saibansho)

Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Court of last resort; Reviews lower court Decisions

(Kōtō Saibansho)

High Court

Federal District Court

Appellate Court

(Chihō Saibansho)

District Court

State courts

Trial court

(Kan'i Saibansho)

Summary Courts

State and Municipal courts

 Trial court

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