Japanese Legal Research at the University of Washington
ワシントン大学の法律学校アジア法学部門での 日本の法律研究

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Finding Cases
(Updated August 15, 2013)

Tools for finding Cases and Sources for Cases

In general, cases are much harder to locate than laws. This is especially true if you are looking for an English translation of a case. Cases are not cited or indexed in a format that is familiar to U.S. trained attorneys. Finding aids for cases in Japanese do not include an index of cases by the names of the parties. Instead, cases are indexed by the court, the date, and also by the citation to the statute at issue in the case. Electronic indexes are a boon, as they add "keyword" indexing, which allows the researcher to search by any word in the record for the case.

The library collects most important case reporters in Japanese, and all known translations of cases into English. It is likely that our collection includes most available cases. The problem is that often a case is mentioned in the media very soon after it is decided, but it may not be published until several months later; therefore the library will not immediately have the case.

Recently, the situation has improved somewhat with the new Supreme Court web site that includes recent Supreme Court cases, another page on the same site that includes summaries of recent Intellectual Property decisions, and a few other web sites with cases (see Court Decisions on the Web Resources page).

In English
(see also Court Decisions In English on the Web Resources page) 

  • Indexes to Cases (These are rare in English, but the following sources are useful.)
  • Treatises with case indexes
    • Commentaries with case indexes and text of some cases (see examples under "Case Reporters" below)
    • Indexes included in Monographs on Japanese constitutional law (MGGLL catalog)
  • Case Reporters/Case Commentary
    • Series of prominent judgments of the Supreme Court upon questions of constitutionality.  no. 1-30 (1954-1999) Ceased Publication.  KNX2066.3 .J37 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
      Available on the web
    • The constitutional case law of Japan : selected Supreme Court decisions, 1961-70.  KNX2066.5 1978 at CLAS (Classified Stacks)
    • The constitutional case law of Japan, 1970 through 1990.  KNX2066.5 1996 at CLAS (Classified Stacks)
    • Court and Constitution in Japan; selected Supreme Court [constitutional] decisions, 1948-60.  KNX2066.5 1964 at CLAS (Classified Stacks)
    • Leading cases. European Commission for Democracy through Law.  Bulletin on constitutional case-law. Special edition
      Strasbourg : Venice Commission, Council of Europe, 2002-   KJC4444.52.B85L433
      (Has English digests of some Japanese Constitutional law cases.)

In Japanese
(see also Court Decisions In Japanese on the Web Resources page)

  • Case reporters, etc.
    (citation form in parenthesis)
    • 最高裁判所判例集 (民事・刑事)[Saikō Saibansho hanreishū. (Minshū, Keishū)]. KNX18.A31948 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
      Official print source for Supreme Court decisions
      See related cases on the web
    • 最高裁判所裁判集. 刑事
      Unique source for "unpublished" Supreme Court criminal decisions not available elsewhere in print
      KNX3796.3.S35 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
    • 最高裁判所裁判集. 民事
      Unique source for "unpublished" Supreme Court civil decisions not available elsewhere in print.
      KNX496.3 .S35 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
    • 高等裁判所判例集 (高刑集・高民集)[Kōtō Saibansho hanreishū. (Kōkeishū, Kōminshū)].  KNX19 .A31948 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).  See related cases on the web
    • 下級裁判所刑事裁判例集 (下刑集)[Kakyū saibansho keiji saiban reishū (Kakeishū)].  See related cases on the web
      KNX19 .A31948 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
    • 下級裁判所民事裁判例集 (下民集)[Kakyū Saibansho minji saiban reishū (Kaminshū)] . See related cases on the web
      KNX496.3 .K35 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
    • 労働関係民事裁判例集 (労民集)[Rōdō kankei minji saiban reishū (Rōminshū)].  CEASED PUBLICATION with no. 5/6 of 1997.  KNX1266.3 .R62 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).  Continued on the web
    • 知的財産権関係民事・行政判例集(知的裁集)[Chiteki zaisanken kankei minji, gyōsei saiban reishū. (Chiteki Saishū)].  KNX1155.A57 M87 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).  CEASED PUBLICATION with no. 30 of 1998. Continued on the web
    • 行政事件裁判例集 (行裁判集)[Gyōsei jiken saiban reishū (Gyōsaishū)] . KNX24.3 .A31950 at CLAS (Classified Stacks). CEASED PUBLICATION with vol. 48, no. 12 (1997). Continued on the web
    • 判例時報(判時)[Hanrei jihō (Hanji)].  KNX19.A35 .H64H37 at CLAS (Classified Stacks)
      One of the two main commercial sources for the text of Japanese court cases. (Hanrei taimuzu is the other.) (Three times a month)
    • 判例タイムズ(判タ)[Hanrei taimuzu (Hanta)].  KNX19.A35 .H36 at CLAS (Classified Stacks)
      One of the two main commercial sources for the text of Japanese court cases. (Twice a month) Some Recent Issues on the web.
    • 判例時報 (判時)[Hanrei jihō (Hanji)]. KNX19.A35 H64 at CLAS (Classified Stacks)
      The other of the two main commercial sources for the text of Japanese court cases.
    • 審決広報 [Shinketsu kōhō]= Published decision on appeal/trial in patent, utility model, design and trademark [
      Important source for Intellectual property decisions. KNX1194.A57 S59 at CLAS (Classified Stacks). Library no longer receives CD-ROM.  Continued on the web
  • Indexes to Cases, Digests, etc.
    • Westlaw Japan
    • 法律判例分権情報 [CD ROM and Paper] [Hōritsu hanrei bunken jōhō = Current legal information] KNX5 .H67 at Reference Area. (Library Use Only)
      (Index to Journal articles and cases. Also available in CD ROM covering from 1982 through about 2 years before the current date. The paper version updates the CD ROM.
      See information about the online version (launched in April 2005).
      See Also "How To Use The HHBJ CD ROM"
    • 判例体系 [Hanrei taikei] . KNX19.A2 1977 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
      (This massive loose-leaf digest has over 20 multi-volume sections, each devoted to a broad area of the law (administrative law, constitutional law, obligations, etc.). Within each section, relevant statutes are included, with extensive notes interpreting them and referring to relevant case law. Citations are included to the full text of the cases discussed, making this set, in effect an index to case law in Japan. Since it is a loose-leaf, it is relatively up-to-date.)
    • 民事裁判例索引 [Minji saibanrei sakuin].  KNX496 .M56 at CLAS (Classified Stacks).
    • 模範六法 [Mohan roppō] . KNX15 .M63 at CLAS (Classified Stacks). Current Issue: REF (Reference)
      (Entries for statutes have citations to relevant cases.)
    • Treatises with case indexes (Commentaries: search (for examples) keywords 注釈 [chushaku]、注解 [chukai]、or コンメンタール [konmentaru] in the library catalog)
    • Journal articles with case indexes