Change of Japanese Lawyers after the East Japan Great Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Takayuki II, Senshu University, Japan
The role of lawyers following a disaster was considered after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (Morse 2011), but has not been extensively discussed. While the legal treatment of the East Japan Great Earthquake and Tsunami (EJGET) is partly discussed in some English writing (Leflar et al. 2012, Feldman 2013), this paper focuses on the role of lawyers after the GEJET, which has rarely been touched on.

Lawyers and bar associations began conducting legal consultations immediately after the GEJET. On-site consultation in the devastated areas was conducted by attorneys nationwide, who were dispatched from bar associations outside the devastated areas. Free telephone legal consultation for victims was administered by bar associations in the Tokyo area. There was also some successful lobbying activity by lawyers to make or amend statutes to support sufferers.

Backed up by the reforms to legal access after the 1990s, Japanese lawyers seem to have tried to support victims relatively well, including an outreach approach and campaigns for necessary legal amendments. According to a comparison of the activities of attorneys following the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995 and the EJGET (Nagai 2005 and 2012), their common features are basically the same; the provision of legal advice, defending victims using legal aid, making proposals for necessary legal changes and assisting community reconstruction. In addition, following the EJGET lawyers have been seen to be performing new functions which include supplying information to and from victims in the place of ruined local governments, providing ADR services, responding to the nuclear power plant accident and supporting evacuees from Fukushima.

This paper considers these changes seen in Japanese lawyers after the EJGET and their future prospects to cope with the disaster.