Meiji University Law in Japan Programme

15 March 2019

With support from the Global Experience Bursary, Alex pursued his interest in Japan by undertaking the Meiji University Law in Japan Programme.

Alex Satoru Cheah, Law LLB

I attended Meiji University’s Law in Japan Programme from July 2018 to August 2018. It was a full-day programme (roughly 9:20am to 4:40pm every weekday) and consisted of lectures and field trips, with both international and local Japanese participants. The lectures, held primarily in English, were on the Japanese Judicial System, Labour Law, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Legal Ethics, Business Law, Criminal and Prison System, Civil Justice, Enterprise Law, Tax Law, Law and Information Technology, Intellectual Property Law, and Public International Law, while we also visited a law firm, Fujifilm’s legal department, the Japanese Diet (Parliament), attended a court proceeding at the Tokyo District Court, and went to Yokohama Prison. 

Apart from lectures and field trips, we also had various social events such as a welcome party where we participated in a quiz and various icebreaker games, a tour of the campus, food tours around Tokyo, visits to various landmarks in and around Tokyo, amongst others. 

The lectures were very enlightening, as Japanese Law is primarily based off French and Germanic Civil Law with some traces of Common Law here and there, and is also heavily influenced by its own unique culture. I saw common topics being approached from different angles, broadening my mind on various legal issues and allowing me to see how the law is applied differently in a vastly different jurisdiction.

alex and friends

Having lectures on modules that I have not yet studied was also a great experience, as I got to know how it would be like studying them, before making my module selections for my third year. The lectures on IP Law, Constitutional Law, and Business Law were especially helpful. I also got to experience how it would like to be studying in a Japanese university. It is a valuable experience for those who are considering to pursue further education in Japan since their method of teaching is very different from the way UCL goes about its teaching – notably, they do not have any tutorials or small group discussions. 

Beyond the academic realm, I thoroughly enjoyed the programme because I got the chance to experience life as a Japanese university student, which is well-known to be fun-filled. I hung out mainly with the local students, and indulged in their after-school activities such as going to holiday islands, game centres, virtual reality experiences, summer festivals, drinking, and restaurant/café hopping. This, to me, was what make the programme so memorable, because its where I made friends and had a great time! Japan has tons of great food at cheap prices, so this is definitely the place to go if you’re a foodie. Shops are open till late, and the night life is spectacular – the city remains abuzz even as the sky turns dark, with the bright neon lights illuminating the city, and the streets still filled with people (perhaps something to do with the salarymen working long hours…but that’s for another time). The locals are also very friendly, helpful, and honest, so you don’t ever have to worry about feeling unwelcome or being cheated! Also, the transportation system is amazing compared to the Tube. There are so many places to go to, you’ll never want to leave!

I would strongly recommend this programme to LLB students, especially if you speak Japanese and are considering working or studying in Japan in the future. While the programme is made to be assessible to non-law students, the reality is that almost all the participants have a background in law, and the lectures generally proceed with the assumption that you have at least a basic foundation in law. If you don’t have such a foundation, some of the lectures may go over your head. If you don’t speak Japanese at all, I’d still definitely recommend the programme, but your social experiences will probably differ greatly from mine, since virtually all of my social conversations were in Japanese, and since English signs and menus are not very common in Japan. 

If you have any questions feel free to contact me, I’ll be glad to share more about the programme with you!! Insta: cdkr_0146