2015 Newsletter

September 22, 2015

Greetings from Columbia Law School! As we begin another academic year, we would like to update our alumni and friends about the many events of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies in 2014–2015.

Greetings from Columbia Law School!

As we begin another academic year, we would like to update our alumni and friends about the many events of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies in 2014–2015.

Curtis J. Milhaupt

Faculty Exchange with the University of Tokyo

This year the Center for Japanese Legal Studies again hosted visits from University of Tokyo law professors as part of our ongoing faculty exchange program, now in its third decade. The two professors who visited Columbia University were Hisashi Harata, associate professor of private international law and Koji Teraya, professor of law.

Columbia Law School’s Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law Benjamin L. Liebman traveled to Japan in June. At the University of Tokyo, Professor Liebman discussed current debates and trends in legal reform in China. Drawing on his extensive research on China's courts, he discussed both current steps to strengthen and improve the courts and also the general tightening of political control in China. He also discussed the implications for China's participation in international lawmaking. Professor Liebman also gave an evening lecture on related topics to a group of Columbia Law School alumni at the international law firm Nishimura & Asahi.

Highlight: Toshiba Library for Japanese Legal Research

A central aspect of Japanese law studies at Columbia Law School is the Toshiba Library for Japanese Legal Research, which is located on the second floor of the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library. Librarian Yukino Nakashima, who has curated the Toshiba Library’s collection from its establishment in 1984, has assisted an entire generation of law students and outside researchers with Japanese legal research.

In 1982, Columbia Law School was fortunate to receive the Jiro Tanaka Collection, one of the few major private holdings of Japanese legal materials to survive World War II. In the ensuing years, many more gifts were added, including the collection of former Japanese Supreme Court Justice Itsuo Sonobe. Substantial new acquisitions were also made. The Toshiba Library was the brainchild of renowned Columbia Law School administrative law professor Walter Gellhorn, and it was made possible by a generous endowed gift from the Toshiba Corporation. Thanks to the generosity of our alumni, Japanese government institutions, universities, and corporations, the Toshiba Library continues to maintain a comprehensive research collection.

The Toshiba Library holds more than 34,000 volumes, including 17,000 monographic titles and nearly 300 current serials, and is the largest Japanese law collection in a U.S. law school library. Ready access to these extensive resources, including via TKC Law Library, D1-Law, and Lexis Japan, facilitates the center’s research and teaching. Students and visitors are continuously amazed to find a rich Japanese law collection in the middle of New York City.

Even beyond the Columbia community, the Toshiba Library is honored to serve other American academic and legal communities, contributing to the understanding of the Japanese legal system in a global context.


Student Activities

Students Working in Japan, Summer 2015

Six Columbia Law School students worked in Japan during the 2015 summer—three as public interest fellows and three as summer associates at law firms.

(left to right) Yujin Yi, Mary Prager, Justin Hunyh, Arisa Akashi, Lanna Lan, James Teng

Morrison & Foerster Public Interest Fellowships in Japan

Thanks to the generous support of Morrison & Foerster, the Center for Japanese Legal Studies was proud to provide three fully funded public interest fellowships in Japan for the summer of 2015. All three fellows worked at Human Rights Now! Tokyo.

Justin Huynh ’17 drafted reports on laws with discriminatory impact on women in several countries, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, and Papua New Guinea. He also drafted and edited advocacy statements on freedom of expression in Japan related to the NHK and TV Asahi controversies.

Lanna Lan ’17 updated reports on the human rights situation of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster evacuees and wrote a report on the exploitation of labor in China and Cambodia. She also researched and wrote comprehensive reports outlining the discriminatory impact of Malaysian and Indonesian criminal law on women and the consistency of such laws with various international conventions. She gained experience in comparative constitutional analysis, conducting legal research on the laws of Southeast Asian countries and Sharia law.

James Teng ’17 worked on several human rights advocacy projects. The bulk of his summer was spent on examining discrimination against women in the administration of criminal justice in Iran, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also conducted research on the applicability of international treaties in domestic human rights claims in Myanmar and the implications of China's recent attempt to manage foreign nongovernmental organizations operating within the country. 

Summer Associates

Arisa Akashi ’17 interned at Shearman and Sterling’s Tokyo office. She was exposed to cross-border transactional work, conducted due diligence, and wrote summaries on project finance deals. She prepared a presentation on recent reforms in Japanese corporate governance and worked on a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) case. She also participated in weekly summer fun, ranging from trips to Tokyo Disney Sea to trying “Escape the Room,” a game of cooperative problem-solving.

Mary Ayn Prager ’17 worked at Nishimura & Asahi, where she gained broad exposure to various areas of transactional law. She researched the impact of Japanese environmental deregulation on the renewable energy market, drafted a client letter in a potential tort liability suit involving an international luxury hotel chain, and researched Japanese corporate governance law reform for a submission to an international guide to dealmaking in Japan.

Yujin Yi ’17 interned at Momo-o Matsuo & Namba, a Japanese law firm of about 40 attorneys located in Tokyo. She worked on various matters ranging from drafting secondment agreements to analyzing applicability of state criminal statutes to clients. She also took part in many cross-border matters involving U.S. and Japanese parties.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu Fellowship Recipients

The Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu (NO&T) Fellowship helps Columbia Law School attract the top J.D. candidates in the country with a professional interest in Japan. The center awarded four NO&T Fellowships to incoming students in the Class of 2018.

Elise Bonine ’18 graduated cum laude from the Honors Program at the University of Tulsa with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She went to Japan knowing “exactly five words of Japanese.” While there, she quickly rose to become the president of Hokkaido Japanese Exchange and Teaching Association (HAJET). She then funded Smile Kids! Hokkaido, which promotes cultural understanding among children.

Barbara “Carina” De La Paz ’18 completed Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in politics and international relations, and a certificate in East Asian studies. Over a two-year period she served as a teacher and a regional representative of the JET program in Aomori Prefecture. She also participated in a seminar at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto.

Janet Kanzawa ’18 received a Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Vassar College with a double major in philosophy and international studies. Her thesis topic was transnational bribery and its implications for Japan. She interned for a summer at White & Case LLP in Tokyo and worked as an associate teacher at the American School in Japan.

Thomas L. Odom III ’18 graduated from Columbia University as a John Jay Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian languages and culture and a department specialization in political science. He participated in the JET program in Saitama. He also interned for a summer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Asia Division. He hopes to use his cross-regional experiences in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. in an international law career.

New Leadership of NHK Student Group for 20152016

The Center for Japanese Legal Studies welcomes the new leadership of Nihon Houritsu Kenkyuukai (NHK) student group and thanks last year’s members for their service.
New leadership includes Arisa Akashi, president; Fangzhou (Marco) Ying ’17, treasurer; and Daniel (Danny) Marcus Kelly ’17, social chair. The LL.M. representative will be selected this fall.
Many thanks to the outgoing board of NHK: Rina Fujii ’16, president; Ben Setel ’16, vice president for career/academic affairs; Matt Kong ’16, vice president for social affairs; Heita Miki ’16, treasurer; and Brandon Ceranowicz ’15, 3L adviser.


Oct. 9, 2014
NHK Japanese Language Exchange Kick-off Lunch
Nov. 12, 2014
Summer Jobs in Japan Panel
Dec. 4, 2014
Symposium (co-sponsored with Columbia Business School’s Center for Japanese Economy and Business) M&A in Japan: Reenergized
The following lectures were given to the Columbia Law School community as part of our faculty exchange program with the University of Tokyo.
Feb. 19, 2015
Professor Koji Teraya, Realizing International Human Rights in the Domestic Legal Order
Feb. 24, 2015
Professor Koji Teraya, Realizing International Human Rights in the Private Sphere

February 26, 2015
Professor Koji Teraya, Persistent Problems of the Death Penalty and Substitute Detention System (Daiyōkangoku)
 March 3, 2015
Professor Koji Teraya, The “Comfort Women” Issue: Human Rights and Diplomatic Relations

March 24, 2015
Professor Hisashi Harata, The Revision of the “Unequal Treaties” and Japan’s Approach to Private International Law
March 26, 2015
Professor Hisashi Harata, The Status of Foreign Children: Tension Between Legal Authority and De Facto Custody
March 31, 2015
Professor Hisashi Harata, The Laundering of Legal Titles in Japan: The Antithesis of a “Secure Transaction”
April 2, 2015
Professor Hisashi Harata, Changes to the Japanese Nationality Act: Internationalism and Parochialism

The Columbia Law School Office of Development and Alumni Relations will be contacting our Japan-based alumni soon with a Save the Date announcement for a reception in Tokyo to introduce Dean Gillian Lester to our enthusiastic Japan Alumni Association!

Columbia's leadership in the field of Japanese law is embodied in the
Center for Japanese Legal Studies, the only center of its kind in the U.S. The center initiates and administers a range of research projects, academic exchanges, and informal programs designed to enhance understanding of the Japanese legal system among the Columbia University community and beyond.