It's long been known that fewer lawsuits are filed in Japan per capita than in the United States. Yet explanations for the difference have tended to be partial and unconvincing, ranging from circular arguments about Japanese culture to suggestions that the slow-moving Japanese court system acts as a deterrent. With Second-Best Justice, J. Mark Ramseyer offers a much more compelling, well-grounded explanation: the low rate of lawsuits in Japan is driven not by distrust of a dysfunctional system but by a system that works-that sorts and resolves disputes in such an overwhelmingly predictable pattern that opposing parties only rarely find it worthwhile to push their dispute to the trial stage. Using evidence from tort claims across many domains, Ramseyer reveals a court system that is designed not to find perfect justice, but to "make do"-to adopt strategies that are mostly right and that thereby resolve disputes quickly and economically. An eye-opening study of comparative law, Second-Best Justice will force a wholesale rethinking of the differences between Japanese and American legal systems and their broader consequences for social welfare.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 231 x 147 x 25 mm
"Ramseyer--often unorthodox, rebellious, paradigm-subverting--has occasionally found himself cast as the enfant terrible of Japanese law, economics, and politics. With this marvelous book, Second-Best Justice, he again takes aim at conventional wisdom with a brilliant, measured, and highly contextualized takedown of the common belief that low litigation rates in Japan indicate that the Japanese legal system is fundamentally flawed. Ramseyer offers an alternative, ingeniously nuanced explanation for why Japanese don't sue: The system aims for good, not perfection. Ramseyer's argument is so compelling that it's difficult to imagine his ideas won't form the next conventional wisdom. With a cavalcade of evidence that powerfully challenges dominant counterarguments, Second-Best Justice is essential reading that is sure to spark controversy, as well as change minds."--Mark D. West, University of Michigan Law School
"In predictably insightful and lucid fashion, Ramseyer shows how the Japanese legal system 'makes do' with relatively simple, predictable rules to resolve a variety of common disputes. The result, it turns out, is a legal system that functions just fine--perhaps much better than one aspiring to perfect, individualized justice. Second-Best Justice is an astute commentary on the Japanese legal system, and by implication, the US system to which it is often compared."--Curtis J. Milhaupt, Columbia Law School
"Replete with facts, figures, and statistical analyses, Second-Best Justice is a richly detailed examination of Japan's 'second-best' system for handling personal injury cases--a system that, Ramseyer argues, puts the United States to shame."--Daniel H. Foote, University of Washington and University of Tokyo