Journal Articles

Judicial Independence in Civil Law Regimes: Econometrics from Japan

1997, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

Eric Bennett Rasmusen, J. Mark Ramseyer


Because the Japanese judiciary exclusively hires young and unproven jurists for its lower courts, it maintains elaborate career incentive structures. We use personnel data on 276 judges (every judge hired between 1961 and 1965) to explore the determinants of career success and test whether politicians manipulate those incentives. We find strong evidence that the system rewards the most productive judges, but little evidence of ongoing school cliques, and no evidence that the system favors judges who mediate over those who write opinions. We also find that even as late as the 1980s, those judges who joined a prominent leftist organization in the 1960s were still receiving less attractive jobs than their colleagues. Moreover, judges who decided a case against the government incurred the rise that the government would punish them with less attractive posts. Finally, judges who declared unconstitutional a crucial section of the electoral law received less attractive posts than those who held it constitutional. Copyright 1997 by Oxford University Press.


Rasmusen, Eric Bennett and J. Mark Ramseyer (1997), "Judicial Independence in Civil Law Regimes: Econometrics from Japan," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Vol. 13, 259-286 (lead article). Translated and reprinted, "Nihon ni okeru shiho no dokuritsu wo kensho suru" [Examining Judicial Independence in Japan], Rebaiasan [Leviathan: The Japanese Journal of Political Science] (1998), Vol. 22, 116-149.

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