Report on 4th EALS Conference at Waseda University, Tokyo
by Setsuo Miyazawa
This is a belated report about the 4th East Asian Law & Society Conference (EALS2015) held at Waseda University on August 4-6. http://www.sota.j.u-tokyo.ac.jp/EALS2015/EALS2015HP5.html Like previous EALS conferences in Hong Kong (2010), Seoul (2011), and Shanghai (2013), this was an activity of the Collaborative Research Network 33 (CRN33) on East Asian Law and Society in the Law & Society Association (LSA). I chaired its Organizing Committee, but real work was done by 21 members of the Committee led by two Vice Chairs, Yoshitaka Wada of Waseda University and Shozo Ota of the University of Tokyo. The first photo shows most of the Committee members. Waseda Law School became a co-organizer of the conference and Waseda University graciously waived fees for the use of classrooms and other facilities. Fund raising led by Wada-san was also so successful that the early bird regular registration fees were only 10,000 JPY for participants from OECD countries and merely 5,000 JPY for those from non-OECD countries.
Reflecting the fact that this year is the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II, the general theme of the conference was “The Role of Law in Bridging Chasms in and among Asian Societies.” Nine leading scholars and practitioners were invited as keynote speakers from South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, and Japan. The first day was devoted to the opening session, the keynote speeches, and the welcome reception. UC Hastings was the proud sponsor of the welcome reception. The second photo is a scene of a keynote speech, the third photo is me with a UC Hastings emblem at the reception, and the fourth photo shows Malcolm Feeley toasting.
Three Presidents of the LSA (Valerie Hans of Cornell, the current President; Carroll Seron of UC Irvine, the Immediate Past President; Malcolm Feeley of UC Berkeley, the president for 2005-2007) were invited. Their presence made this a truly special event for scholars outside the United States. The fifth photo shows me with them at the opening session. (from left: Seron, me, Hans and Feeley)
266 people registered, and more than 50 sessions were organized on the second and third days. The Japanese Association of Sociology of Law and the Japanese Association of Sociological Criminology organized some sessions, and there was a special interview with Suo Masayuki, the Director of the movies “Shall We Dance?” and “Still I Didn’t Do it!,” about his experience as a member of Justice Ministry’s Committee on “Criminal Justice in a New Era.” The sixth photo shows a scene from the session on “Democracy and the Lay Judge System in Japan” I organized and chaired.
These sessions were augmented by a pre-conference excursion on August 3 and two post-conference excursions on August 7. The pre-conference excursion was to the Fuchu Prison, the largest prison in Japan. The leader was Mari Hirayama. One of the post-conference excursions was to the Supreme Court and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. The leader was Takeshi Akiba. The other post-conference excursion was to Namie-town in the Fukushima Prefecture, which is one of the municipalities devastated and evacuated by the quake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011. The leaders were Takao Suami, Takayuki Ii, and Eri Osaka.
In spite of the record-breaking heat which reached more than 35C (95F) (or possibly because people did not want to go out under such heat!), people were quite attentive and seemed generally satisfied. I quote some emails as testimonials.
Malcolm Feeley: “Congratulations on a fantastic conference and the launching of a new Association. It is the culmination of several years of work, and within four short years of the conference in Hong Kong. (It took the LSA much longer to go from ad hoc caucus to full-fledged association!).”
Valerie Hans: “Let me echo Malcolm's congratulations on hosting a wonderful conference! The sessions were substantively excellent and the opening reception with its own sushi chef was one of the best I've ever attended. Most of all, I enjoyed reconnecting with many scholars from the area and meeting new people doing cutting-edge work on Asian law and society. I hope to see many of the same scholars at the LSA meetings in New Orleans.”
Carroll Seron: “While last to respond, let me note that this was a fantastic experience for me. I remain deeply honored to join such an accomplished group of keynote speakers. Many took the time to let me know that they found my comments interesting and thoughtful; all of this was particularly gratifying. The whole experience will remain a very special introduction to Japan, a country I have long wanted to visit. Thanks to all for making this a wonderful experience. I was also impressed by the conferees' attendance at the panels--something that LSA could definitely emulate much more effectively. Yesterday's visit to the Supreme Court and the meeting with a Justice was a very special way to wrap up my trip to Japan.”
David Johnson: “It really was an excellent conference, one of the best I have attended in recent years. Thanks so much for all you did to organize it. Your energy is amazing.”
Finally, at the business meeting before the closing session, the Constitution of the Asian Law & Society Association (ALSA) was adopted, and the ALSA has been formally established. The regular membership fee is only 3,000 JPY a year, and members will have the privilege to individual subscription to the Asian Journal of Law & Society published by Cambridge University Press at an annual rate of only $35 a year. Membership registration will be accepted after August 16. http://alsa.sakura.ne.jp/ I hope many people will join the ALSA. The first election of its Officers and Trustees will be conducted in November, and the first annual meeting will be held at the National University of Singapore in September 2016. In the meantime, CRN33 will remain as a group in the LSA mainly to organize sessions at LSA annual meetings. The seventh and last photo shows me explaining the relationships among the LSA, the CRN33, and the ALSA at the business meeting.
Aoyama Gakuin University & UC Hastings College of the Law
Chair, Organizing Committee, 4th East Asian Law & Society Conference