Message from the CALE Director

s-NU_4307_2.jpgLegislative Support as a Path to Self-discovery and Mutual Growth

I am pleased to have been appointed to serve as Director of the Center for Asian Legal Exchange (CALE).
As described in this pamphlet, CALE is engaged in various activities such as the promotion of joint projects related to law and politics in Asia, support for research activities within Japan by researchers from Asian countries, research of law in collaboration with Japanese government agencies, and provision of assistance for legal education within the Asian region. At the core of these activities is the phrase “Legal Assistance”.
What is “Legal Assistance”? The answer to that question has already been given by CALE’s previous directors, as well as many experts. Although my own research focused mostly on Korean Law, I would nevertheless like to discuss one thing that I was reminded of during the last several years after I became involved in CALE related affairs.
What I was reminded of was that at the foundation of “Legal Assistance” are efforts to engage in conversations about laws. When you see or hear the words “Assistance”, “Donor”, or “Recipient”, the image that appears inside your mind is that of “Helping someone in need”. Indeed, there may be an aspect of “Help” in that we are sometimes involved in code drafting or on-site education of students. However, such processes are not comparable to that of a one-way relationship between one that is superior lending a helping hand to one that is inferior. Conversations with researchers, professionals, and students from countries throughout the Asian region allow us to discover issues that we had previously been oblivious to, realize that our knowledge was but a one dimensional perspective, and recognize contradictions within our own legal system and ideas. It should also be noted that self-discovery through such cross-cultural understanding has always been the greatest reward one could earn from comparative law. I believe that through cooperation and exchange with the diverse populations within the Asian region, who were once difficult to engage with for legal research, we will be able to go beyond simply acquiring knowledge of their laws and instead contemplate the meaning of law itself from the perspective of comparative law, as well as reexamine and further enhance Japanese law. I have no doubt that such efforts involving not only the field of legal studies but also political science and all other related sciences will be more promising and multifaceted.
It is my hope that we at CALE will keep in mind the reason behind our choice to promote law and politics using the phrase “Legal Exchange” in our name rather than “Assistance”, as we pursue our activities in sharing our intellectual endeavors with others throughout Japan Asia, and the global community.

Director of CALE
Professor, Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University