The Supreme Court and Benign Elite Democracy in Japan  book cover
1st Edition

The Supreme Court and Benign Elite Democracy in Japan

ISBN 9780367602680
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
360 Pages

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Book Description

The Constitution of Japan has served the country for more than half a century, creating and maintaining a stable and functional democratic system. This book innovatively interprets Japanese politics as a ’benign elite democracy’ whilst demonstrating the Supreme Court's vital contribution to the political structure. In The Supreme Court and Benign Elite Democracy in Japan, Hiroshi Itoh presents the first empirical study of judicial decision making under Japan's Constitution. He examines the Supreme Court’s records regarding the protection of civil rights and liberties, the preservation of the conformity of lower levels of laws and regulations to the Constitution, and the maintenance of the Court's relationships to the political branches. The analysis of these three aspects of constitutional litigation reveal how the Supreme Court contributes to the efficacy of constitutional democracy by keeping the system adaptable to the ever-changing environment in and around Japan.

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, David S. Law; Introduction; Elite governance in Japan; Judicial decision-making; Judicial impact and feedback; Judicial attitudes on the Grand Bench; Judicial attributes of justices; Judicial role of the Supreme Court; Conclusions; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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Hiroshi Itoh is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Works he has co-written or co-edited include The Constitutional Case Law of Japan, 1970 through 1990 (University of Washington Press, 1996) and Japan's Public Policy under the Gun of Globalization (Edwin Mellen Press, 2009).


'A masterful study of the contributions of judges to the governance of Japan's "benign elite democracy," and how they think in their judicial decision-making. Hiroshi Itoh has enjoyed extraordinary access to the judicial mind through numerous interviews of Supreme Court justices. Comprehensive, accurate and nuanced.' Lawrence W. Beer, Lafayette College, USA 'This is a definitive work on the Japanese Supreme Court at work. Professor Itoh’s empirical and longitudinal analysis of the constitutional litigation is scholarly and commendable. Highly original are his main contentions that judicial conservatism on civil liberties and judicial self restraint vis-à-vis the political branches have contributed to maintaining the benign elite governance and conservative democracy in Japan.' Itsuo Sonobe, former Supreme Court Justice of Japan 'This book offers very useful insights into the Supreme Court, and the relationship between justices' attitudes and their decisions, thus providing us with very rich sources of information to understand the behaviour of the Japanese Supreme Court.' Pacific Affairs 'The Supreme Court and Benign Elite Democracy in Japan, is ambitious in scope. It brings together a number of different analytical frameworks to give a thorough and interesting account of the Supreme Court... could be usefully included in readings for courses on Japanese law; constitutional law, courts and judiciaries generally; or Japanese government and politics.' Australian Journal of Asian Law 'The Supreme Court and Benign Elite Democracy in Japan is a treasure trove of information about the Japanese Supreme Court. It answers many questions about that institution and it raises many more.' Journal of Japanese Studies