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Top>Education>Hanoi Legal Development Internship


Nobuaki Hogaku

Nobuaki Hogaku [Profile]

Hanoi Legal Development Internship

Nobuaki Hogaku
Professor of Commercial Law (Company Law), the Faculty of Law, Chuo University

At Faculty of Law, Chuo University, we actively promote internships, to provide work experience for students related to their field of study or their future careers.
Especially in the credit recognized Academic Internship, which is divided into four fields, international, administration, NPO/NGO, and judicial affairs, students have the opportunity to map out their careers and arouse a new interest in study through practical experience.
Here, I will introduce the Hanoi Legal Development Support Internship (international field) of which I am in charge.

1. What is Hanoi Legal Development Support?

The Hanoi Legal Development Support Internship for Faculty of Law students started in 2008. The major activities include, using JICA (international cooperation agency) Hanoi Legal Development Support Laboratory as a base and have students 1) attend lectures on what legal development support is, 2) participate in on-site legal development support activities, and 3) have exchanges with students from Hanoi National University and Hanoi Law University.
The content covered in the lectures consists of (1) what developing nation support and legal development support is, and lectures on specific legal development support activities currently taking place in Vietnam, as well as (2) commentary on Vietnam's political system and characteristics, and present state of Vietnam's laws. These are delivered by specialists from the Hanoi Legal Development Support Laboratory. There are three fulltime specialists from the legal profession in Hanoi, a public prosecutor who acts as the laboratory head, a judge and a lawyer, and on-site staff from JICA.
About participation in support activities, the foremost activity is attending various seminars that come with the practical lawmaking. In other words, to find out what support activities are taking place, we watch the actual support activities in the field.
In these seminars the students (3) attend public lectures given by Japanese researchers, judges and JICA specialists, and take part in (4) preparatory investigative work for codification in the Department of Justice interior, (5) investigative work of provisions in the legal codification process, (6) investigative meetings using teleconference systems between Vietnamese Department of Justice legislators and Japanese researchers, in addition to, although unrelated, (7) courtroom proceedings, and finally, (8) exchanges with Vietnamese students.
In the public lectures mentioned in (3), actual legislation taking place in Vietnam is introduced or specific legal codes subject to amendment operations. And in relation to specific legal areas, what is behind the thinking of lawmaking, or amendments in Japanese law and how they are made into provisions. Experiences from this kind of revision work and the various problems related to law enactment are also introduced.
Participants from the Vietnamese side were mainly researchers, Department of Justice workers and legislators.
Investigative work in the interior of (4) is related to legal areas subject to amendment operations. Investigating the gist of the legislation, examining the content of the basic legal language and concepts, and systematic investigations of the larger framework. (Refer to part 2.)
Department of Justice officials and Vietnamese researchers were present here, providing great stimulus for the students through extremely high level discussions.
Examination of the gist of the legislation (which is seriously affected by the problems below) take place in the specific investigative work of (5), but in the applicable areas of the provisions themselves, examinations into whether the wording has being expressed well or not, including problems of consistency in the provisions, must be sharply investigated in an extremely elaborate and sensitive manner. These were attended by people from the interior of the Department of Justice.
I didn't attend (6) so I will refrain from commenting on it, but speaking from past experience, it is an interesting debate where Japanese and Vietnamese logic come to loggerheads at the stage of basic concept arrangement.
In (7) this year, the court proceedings involved a case of fraud relating to a promise of employment. The students showed great interest as the court, unlike in Japan, showed the special features of a people's democracy courtroom, where the judge and prosecutor join forces in grilling the defendant.
They were surprised by the defendant entering the court unexpectedly (also to the surprise of the gallery), the trial proceedings, the swiftness of the conclusion of the trial and handing down of the verdict (about one hour in total).
For (8), an exchange with students of Japanese law from Hanoi Law University and Hanoi National University had been planned. Our students would have been taken aback by their sincere attitude and Japanese proficiency, as well as the gap in legal awareness between beginner law scholars, or Vietnamese in general, and their Japanese counterparts. Unfortunately this exchange couldn't take place this year.
Out of these programs, (5) and (8) never took place.

2. An example of legal development investigative operations

As an example from the 2009 seminars ((4) above), discussions relating to land usage rights took place.
In Vietnam, land is owned by the people, but in reality ownership belongs to the state, and citizens merely have land usage rights. And core rights of those land usage rights lie in the family=house, with the family unit using the land for farming, for example. The head of the household deals with the purchasing and selling of land (usage rights), but must gain approval from every member in the household.
If one member of the family leaves for the city and starts their own family there, it is possible to possess dual rights as a member of the former family (farm land usage rights) and as a member of the new family (residing on city real estate rights). How would this situation be settled? (As a rule, the farm land rights would be terminated).
Moreover, in the case where the apartment building in the city, where the family member lives, is built on land where multiple families hold usage rights, as a rule, the whole apartment building would come under joint ownership of the original land holding families but, with the joint ownership (among family members) of the original single plot of land, that jointly owned land would then become jointly owned with other jointly owned land, and in turn having an apartment building built upon that land.
With this being the case, how to settle between the usage rights of the apartment building and the original land usage rights (usage rights for empty land where no building stands, for example), and furthermore, how to settle between the usage rights of those living in a newly purchased apartment and the holder of the rights of the original land, or how to allocate rights among the family of the land usage rights holder, poses many complicated issues. These difficult problems were discussed at the interior seminar (4).
After participating in various activities at these seminars, the students returned to the legal development support lab, and while receiving advice from the support lab specialists, considered the issues by talking them over and putting them in order.
Including mealtimes, about 10 hours a day are spent with the three legal profession specialists at the support laboratory.

3. Features of the Vietnam Legal Development Support Internship (this is where the internship stands out)

A feature of the Vietnam internship is firstly, while in Japan it isn't easy for faculty students to observe the scene of legislation operations, this can be realized in the Vietnam internship, and secondly, students joining the internship can see, hear and experience the legal development support laboratory's judge, prosecutor and lawyer's way of thinking, and different ways to approach topics through various settings. Thirdly, students can also attend lectures on how to deal with specific law development from the standpoint of each of the three legal professionals, and fourthly, and possibly the most important, they can experience the great taste of Vietnamese cuisine, the hospitality of the people, and the beautiful scenery.
Because you experience an extremely concentrated internship over a long term, it can actually be hard work conditioning yourself.
If you overlook the slightly high humidity, it is a comparatively safe country with a high standard of living, and the exchanges with talented people are bound to be a great asset, laying the foundation for the students' futures.

4. Legal development support is about building and growing networks

As it happens, several years ago, Hanoi National University introduced a course on Japanese law.
According to Legal Development Support Laboratory head at the time, prosecutor M, this wasn't just about making provisions. The core of legal development support had to raise personnel that were able to write up provisions themselves, and personnel to apply those provisions, as well as development of personnel dealing with wider areas of law. Vietnamese legal development support wasn't at the stage of simply making laws and amending them, but at the stage of making laws appropriate to themselves, applying and revising them. In the beginning, it was undoubtedly through prosecutor M's voluntary efforts that this Japanese law course took root.
Providing personnel training at the management level for Vietnamese law, when all said and done, is one method of legal development support, propagating and improving legal minds and management skills at the citizen level.
There are already two students from the Japanese law course studying at Chuo University's graduate school, and one each at Nagoya and Kobe Universities graduate schools. After completing their studies in their respective fields, as legal mind practitioners, these students will make great contributions to Vietnam as people training and developing their newly acquired legal minds.
Now, Chuo University President Nagai and, especially, Professor Keita Sato have long been deeply involved in Chuo University's legal development support relating to Vietnam. Through this connection, people involved with Chuo have helped out in close to half the lectures in the Japanese law course. On top of that, lawyer Sato from Chuo was at the Hanoi Legal Development Support Laboratory, and even at the end of his term, continued his break from activities at the major public relations firm he belongs to. Currently, as representative of JICA's legal development support organization in Asia, he spends his time visiting each country in the region. In this way, Chuo University and the Hanoi Legal Development Support Laboratory have preserved their close-knit relationship.
From a different angle, JICA Hanoi Legal Development Support Laboratory has, starting with Chuo, accepted internships from many law schools. It was the year before last, at a banquet held after my final lecture in the course before returning to Japan, where I hesitantly, yet firmly, requested of prosecutor I, prosecutor M's successor, “I, will you please accept some of our faculty students?” The internship program started after he gladly accepted the proposal. (I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to those after me who have undertaken the extremely difficult task of coordinating the program.)

5. Are connections unusual or appealing?

In the first year of the internship, I took a day trip to Ha Long Bay on a day off. (As an aside, I strongly recommend this place to you readers. An overnight stay if possible.)
On the microbus on the way there, a Japanese tourist was shouting out in a loud voice, “Guide! Guide! What's that?!” He was an energetic elderly tourist. I was seated with that same energetic tourist for a meal on a cruise ship (to my dismay), when he asked me, “Is everyone here a tourist?” When I replied, “I'm on an internship at the legal development support lab,” he exclaimed, “That's my son-in-law's place!”
Prosecutor I told me afterwards with a chuckle, “When my old man said he was going to Ha Long Bay, I kind of had a bad feeling.” It is with these kinds of connections where the internship program got its start and continues working.
But, coincidentally, prosecutor I was an ex-student of former Teikyo University professor T, who my family is greatly indebted to from our time in France, making this story of the elderly man clearer.
“How is S doing?,” Professor T would say, when asking for news of my second son, when we met at conferences. He would acknowledge to being a great fan of my slightly arrogant and somewhat abrasive son, but he was a father figure to my family. To have this internship proposal accepted and continued by my mentor's disciple makes me feel like his actual son on this internship.
From the coincidental beginnings of this internship, to actually working in the program, my next hope is that students participating in this program will cross the vertical and horizontal systems into the next generation.
In conclusion, I would like to add that the process and results of the preparation, on-site activities and post-activity reports of all students who participated in the internship was as great as, or even greater than the content of this internship.

(Offered by Kusa no Midori (The Greeness of Grass) No.233)

Nobuaki Hogaku
Professor of Commercial Law (Company Law), the Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Born in Okayama Prefecture in 1949. Graduated from the Faculty of Law, Chuo University. Left Meiji University's graduate school on completion of his doctorate in 1982. Entered his current position in 2003 after serving as a professor at Meiji University's junior college. Major publications include Political Funds and the Legal System (coauthored: Meiji University Institute of Social Sciences Series). Currently at Strasbourg (Robert Schuman) University's Company Research Center to research settlements between corporate capital procurement and stakeholders.