‘Japanese bachelor’s’ students of law keep studying the language and legal system of a foreign country despite the pandemic. As before, some of the subjects are taught by the teachers from Japan with the difference being that they have moved online.
Ilia Vasilev, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University and Academic Supervisor of the programme, says: ‘The mission of the programme is to train lawyers who will be able to work both with the issues of Russian jurisdiction and — due to their expertise in Japanese law and Japanese language, culture and economics — with bilateral and multilateral projects in government bodies, consulting firms, and state and private companies.’
There are many differences between Russian and Japanese cultures, traditions and historical backgrounds. This is why students start studying the Japanese language, history, culture and ethnography in their first year, and the economics and politics of Japan in their third year. This approach to training lawyers is unique in Russia.
Today, lawyers should exemplify the balance between diversity and uniqueness. Only true experts know specific features of countries and understand how important it is to cooperate keeping in mind all the differences.
Nobuhito Yoshinaka, Professor at Hiroshima University and a teacher of criminal procedure
In Japan there is a mixed legal system that is formed from legal rules, traditions and customs under the influence of the Chinese Confucianism philosophy and borrowed principles of Roman law and common law. This is why all the Japanese subjects — criminal law, criminal procedure law, civil law, administrative law — are taught by Japanese teachers. Also, students take part in regular meetings with Japanese lawyers, entrepreneurs, business owners.
‘Only the Japanese experts can point out the nuances and details that are unavailable to foreigners. During the lectures the invited lawyers give examples from their first-hand experience as well as statistical data. It helps to get an objective vision of the legal system. Iana Antonova, a third-year student of the bachelor’s programme said.
Most of the students study the Japanese language from scratch. One of its main difficulties is Kanji — a system of writing that consists of two syllabaries and approximately one and a half thousand characters.
Complex Japanese legal definitions are taught in English to make it easier for students to comprehend them. However, teachers still explain to students how those terms are pronounced in Japanese.
According to professor Minju Kim, teacher of civil law at Hiroshima University, comparing definitions is a good way to get a deeper understanding of the relevant Russian legal terms.
Students research work was not put on hold during the pandemic. Students continue carrying out academic projects in collaboration with teachers from Japan. For example, foreign colleagues help students to choose topics and sources for their research. Students are particularly interested in studying issues related to alternative forms of resolving conflicts, protection of public rights, information law, contract law, and oversight activities.
From my point of view, the main objective of the programme is to train not just lawyers, but researchers and law-makers who could perform in-depth studies of the legal systems of the two countries and develop them in accordance with social changes.
Professor Kim, a teacher of civil law
Next year the first students of the ‘Japanese bachelor’s programme’ will graduate from the University. And the teachers of the programme have very optimistic forecasts about the graduates’ employment perspectives. ‘I believe the graduates of the programme will become highly demanded experts,’ Shoji Matsubara, Professor at Hiroshima University and a teacher of commercial law said. ‘An international lawyer should take interest in corporations, for example, in cooperation, joint companies, M&A scene. Commerce has no boundaries now. Major Russian and Japanese mineral resources companies can develop their collaboration.’
Andrey Belov, Professor at Fukui Prefectural University, who teaches ‘Contemporary Japan: Economy and Business’, agrees with Shoji Matsubara. He thinks that fundamental legal education and knowledge of the basics of the legal system of one of the countries of Eastern Asia will give future graduates a possibility for professional fulfilment in any field. ‘The Russian export to Japan is based on energy resources, aluminium, fish and timber, whereas the Japanese export to Russia consists mainly of cars and car supplements. We expect these businesses to be developing in the future. As for the new spheres, we could point out participation of Japan in the Arctic gas projects and opening of a ‘Rosatom’ office in Tokyo. These are the spheres that are highly likely to bring us good news in the future,’ Andrey Belov added.