特辑

 

Two Basic Laws of Life: Family Law and Labor Law

2013.04.01
Shinichiro Toyama
Specially Appointed Professor, Chuo Law School
Areas of Specialization: Labor law, family law, traffic accident civil liability law, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system,
bankruptcy law, corporate compliance, financial legal affairs, antitrust law, personal information protection law

1. Four types of lifework themes
 

In my three roles as a professor, lawyer, and researcher, the following four themes have been consistent common themes.
 

(1) Family law
(2) Labor law
(3) Traffic accident civil liability law
(4) ADR (dispute resolution without litigation)
 

People spend the majority of their lives at home or at work, as members of families and as professionals.
 

Accordingly, family law that regulates domestic relationships and labor law that regulates labor relations can be considered as the two basic laws of life.
 

With the workplace and home as starting points, ending points, and transit points, people repeatedly move about using various means of transport. In doing so, they are exposed to the risk of traffic accidents occurring, and these risks manifest themselves at a certain percentage.
 

ADR has developed very well as a resolution system in response to domestic conflicts, labor conflicts, and traffic accident civil liability conflicts.

2. Family law: Aiming to achieve the best interests of children

My achievements in this field include the planning and coordination for “Roundtable Discussion: Amending Parental-Rights Laws-Summary of Issues and Law Amendment Developments” [Zadankai Shinkenho Kaisei ni Mukete Ronten Seiri to Hokaisei no Tembo] (Child Welfare and Joint Custody [Kodomo no Fukushi to Kyodo Shinken], Nihon Kajo Publishing, 2007), which was a roundtable discussion conducted bringing together the leading family law professionals and practitioners at the time.
 

Under Japanese civil law, if there is a child who is a minor at the time of divorce, one of the parents that had joint custody gets sole custody. This type of legal system is in the minority from the viewpoint of comparative law, and it has resulted in a range of issues for quite some time, including prolonged fights over children, refusing to allow children to meet with the parent without custody rights, and conflicts with the best interests of the child, and it continues to be a big issue in family law that is hotly debated today.

3. Labor law: Aiming to achieve sound employment society

In my Legal Clinic (Individual Labor Disputes) class at law school and Modern Contract Law class at business school, all graduate students write reports to be handed in on the same day and conduct presentations and discussions on the themes of problem conditions, problem causes, and amelioration methods in Japanese employment society.
 

Laborers account for approximately half of Japan’s population, with their lives supported by wages.
 

Workplaces are inflicted with several types of diseases, such as harassment, poor mental health issues, death and suicide from overwork, and the disparity between different employment levels.
 

My classes are active participation-based, as I use a reality-based approach to study topics such as how to design and apply a labor law system that achieves an employment society that allows all laborers to work healthfully and happily.

4. Transport civil liability law: Aiming to achieve proper compensation for damages

Compared to the so-called kotsu senso (traffic war) period of the past, the number of fatalities caused by traffic accidents has been on the decline recently.
 

However, when adding up the number of traffic accident casualties since the end of WWII, there has still been no change to the fact that traffic accidents cause the highest number of fatal accidents in Japan.
 

Under these circumstances, the Nichibenren Traffic Accident Consultation Center (public interest incorporated foundation), where I serve as deputy director, in an aim to achieve proper compensation for damages in automobile accidents provides (1) free legal advice by lawyers (face-to-face meetings or over the telephone) and (2) free settlement mediation on a nationwide scale.
 

In addition, the Center also conducts research and training on theory and practice on transport civil liability law. Compensation Calculation Standards for Civil Traffic Accident Lawsuits [Minji Kotsujiko Sosho Songaibaishogaku Santei Kijun] (the so-called Red Book, edited by the Tokyo Branch) and Compensation Calculation Standards for Traffic Accidents [Kotsujiko Songaigaku Santei Kijun] (the so-called Blue Book, edited by the Head Office) were published as a result of this research.
 

As a form of soft law, this Red Book and Blue Book are widely used in compensation practice as standardized rules for traffic accident compensation law.
 

These initiatives of the public interest incorporated foundation serve as beneficial and cost-saving legal services for all citizens. I hope that they are actively used at homes, schools, and workplaces. A detailed guide for the use is available on the website.

5. ADR: Aiming to achieve win-win solutions through dialog

When people unfortunately become directly involved in disputes, the truth is that most would prefer avoiding resolution through a lawsuit.
 

In response to these needs, ADR (alternative disputes resolution) has been getting a lot of attention as of late.
 

The representative forms of ADR include family conciliation (judicial ADR) in domestic court in the field of family law, mediation through the Dispute Coordinating Committee of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Labour Standards Bureau (administrative ADR) in the field of labor law, and settlement mediation (lawyer’s association ADR) in the field of traffic accident civil liability law that was introduced as one of the initiatives of the Nichibenren Traffic Accident Consultation Center above.
 

The Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology conducts earnest mediation (administrative ADR) aimed at the prompt and appropriate resolution of compensation issues between victims of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and the Tokyo Electric Power Company.
 

Various types of ADR are currently ongoing in response to disputes in many fields.
 

By the way, the basic text that I use for my Legal Clinic (ADR) class at law school, “A Comprehensive List of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bodies” [Saibangai Funso Kaiketsu Kikan (ADR) Soran] (Chuo Law Journal), adds the suspicious claim that “You can become an ADR expert if you read this book!” (snicker).

 

Shinichiro Toyama
Specially Appointed Professor, Chuo Law School
Areas of Specialization: Labor law, family law, traffic accident civil liability law, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system, bankruptcy law, corporate compliance, financial legal affairs, antitrust law, personal information protection law

 

Born in 1951. After graduating from the Faculty of Law, Chuo University in 1975, he acquired a law license (employed with the Yamashita and Toyama Law and Patent Office), and has served as specially appointed professor at Chuo Law School from 2006 to the present.
The author’s major public positions include serving on the Nuclear Damage Compensation Judging Special Committee of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; serving on the Adjustment of Construction Work Disputes Central Committee of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; serving as an outside expert for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, serving on the Hachioji-shi Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection Management Council, and serving as a director of the Nichibenren Traffic Accident Consultation Center.
The author’s main publications include Antimonopoly Law Useful for Daily Living [Kurashi ni Yakudatsu Dokusen Kinshiho], “The World of Traffic Accident Civil Liability: Theory and Practice” [Kotsu Minji Baisho no Sekai-Sono Hori to Jitsumu], “Future of Law Practice: Gradual Evolution Theory of Conflict Resolution by Lawyers” [Bengoshigyomu no Shorai: Bengoshi Funso Kaiketsu Gyomu no Dankaiteki Shinkaron], “Resolution of individual labor disputes: Act on Labor Inquiry and Labor Contact Act,” Child Welfare and Joint Custody [Kodomo no Fukushi to Kyodo Shinken], and “A Comprehensive List of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bodies” [Saibangai Funso Kaiketsu Kikan (ADR) Soran].

 

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