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Top>Hakumon CHUO [Special Issue for Autumn 2009]>Roots of Chuo University (Part One)

Hakumon CHUOIndex

Roots of Chuo University (Part One)

Why was Igirisu Horitsu Gakko (the English Law School) established? What was the objective of the school?
What kind of individuals were the 18 founders of the school?
How was the founding philosophy of practical application born?

General Lecture Course at the Faculty of Law: Chuo University and Modern Japan

A discussion with Professor Morikuni Sugawara, Professor Shuhei Honma, and Associate Professor Hideshige Arisawa

The second installment of the series Towards our 125th Anniversary consists of 2 editions that trace the roots of Chuo University. What was the reason for the creation of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko (the English Law School) which was opened in 1885? What was the objective of the school? What kind of individuals were the 18 founders of the school? How was the founding philosophy (spirit) of developing the aspect of practical application born? We discussed these questions with Professor Morikuni Sugawara, Professor Shuhei Honma, and Associate Professor Hideshige Arisawa, all of whom supervise the general lecture course Chuo University and Modern Japan at the Faculty of Law.

Studying university history through the university's history as it correlates with modern Japanese history

-- Would you please start by explaining the objective for establishing the general lecture Chuo University and Modern Japan at the Faculty of Law?

Professor Morikuni Sugawara

Professor Morikuni Sugawara

Professor Morikuni Sugawara:
The lecture course started in April of the 2004 academic year as a full-year, 4 credit lecture course entitled Chuo University and Contemporary Japan. Around that time, there was a lot of talk regarding what is called UI, or university identity. This concept can also be expressed as "love for one's school," and the aim was to make students conscious of their affiliation with Chuo University.

The act of teaching the history of one's own university was referred to as own university history. In the case of Chuo University, this can be called Chuo University history. After considering a variety of aspects, Chuo University and Contemporary Japan was chosen as the title of the lecture course.

Personally, I did not establish this lecture course in order to make our students love Chuo University. Although it would be fine if students grow to love Chuo as a result of the lecture course, I really want students to recognize and understand the relationship between themselves and the university where they conduct their studies. For me, this is the true objective of the lecture course.

Professor Hideshige Arisawa

Professor Hideshige Arisawa

However, this objective by itself is insufficient for a university course. Therefore, logical thinking ability is developed in combination with the study of history. The purpose of the course is to help students understand modern Japanese history, particularly in conjunction with Chuo University.

As part of the revised curriculum at the Faculty of Law, the lecture course was restarted this April under the title Chuo University and Modern Japan. From the start, the lecture course has been run by a total of 8 individuals, including Professor Honma, Associate Professor Arisawa, and myself, all of whom were involved in the editing process for the 100th anniversary of Chuo University. Associate Professor Arisawa was asked to participate on very short notice. Other individuals participating in supervision of the lecture course are employees of Section of The Compilation of University History who provided support for work regarding the 100th anniversary.

-- Igirisu Horitsu Gakko, predecessor of Chuo University, was established in 1885. In the name English Law School, I noticed that the world "English" is written in Chinese characters instead of katakana.

Professor Hideshige Arisawa:
Starting from the end of the Edo Period, the names of foreign countries and foreign regions were written in Chinese characters.

That was true until around the first year of the Showa Era. If you look at the dictionary entitled Dictionary of Character Assignment for Foreign Words, you can see that America was also once written in Chinese characters.

Rapid increase in social demand for legal education. Legal education at the time was provided by the Department of Justice and the University of Tokyo.

-- So, Igirisu Horitsu Gakko was established in a period when Chinese characters were still used for foreign words. Could you tell us about the background during that period and the objective for the establishment of the school?

Professor Shuhei Honma

Professor Shuhei Honma

Professor Shuhei Honma:
At the time, there was a large social demand for legal education. For example, the number of judges and prosecutors increased by more than 600 between the years of 1876 and 1881. However, during this period, only about 100 individuals had received a legal education before beginning work. In other words, the remaining 500 individuals were complete amateurs.

Then, from around the end of the 19th century, such judges and prosecutors were forced into retirement due to their lack of a proper legal education. It was an age where there was a need to quickly produce professionals with a solid legal education.

-- You mean that anyone could become a judge or a prosecutor at that time?

Well, there was no examination! At that time, there was no examination system for public workers or judges. An examination system was first established in 1884. Initially, not even lawyers possessed a license. At the time, lawyers were called daigennin (representative speakers)," and an "examination system for daigennin" had been established in 1876. However, this examination system did little more than provide licenses to amateurs.

Then, in 1880, the Daigennin Regulation was revised and an authentic examination system was established. At the time, legal education was performed by the School of Law at the Department of Justice and by the School of Law at the University of Tokyo. However, both of these schools required 8 years to complete the course of education.

It was not possible to sufficiently satisfy demand through that kind of educational system. In response to this problem, high-speed courses were created at both the Department of Justice and at the University of Tokyo. However, the Ministry of Education instituted educational regulations which resulted in the elimination of the School of Law at the Department of Justice. This elimination was due to fact that the University of Tokyo had the highest level elite course. In any case, there was a scarcity of legal education, and it became possible to establish a private law school.

Birth of the Five Major Private Law Schools.
The 18 founders were lawyers or judges.

-- Where was the first private law school established?

First Principal: Rokuichiro Masujima

First Principal: Rokuichiro Masujima

At Senshu University. Although there had been small cram schools before that time, the first authentic law school was established at Senshu University in 1880. It was a curriculum based on British and American law. Next, in 1881, the Meiji School of Law (Meiji University) was established by graduates of the School of Law at the Department of Justice. That was followed by the Tokyo School of Law (Hosei University) in 1882. In this way, momentum began to slowly build. Law schools were established at Tokyo Senmon Gakko (Waseda University) in 1882 and at Igirisu Horitsu Gakko (Chuo University) in 1885. Finally, the Japan School of Law was established in 1889 as a predecessor to today's Nihon University.

--What schools were known as the "Five Major Private Law Schools"?

That would be Senshu, Meiji, Hosei, Waseda and Chuo.

-- Igirisu Horitsu Gakko was founded by 18 promising legal professionals*1, including Rokuichiro Masujima. 18 is a large number, isn't it?

It is said that the 4 main individuals involved in founding the school were Rokuichiro Masujima, Isshou Takahashi, Kenkichi Okayama, and Kenzo Takahashi.

-- What kind of social position was held by these individuals?

Rokuichiro Masujima was a lawyer who also taught at the University of Tokyo. Kenkichi Okayama was also a daigennin as lawyers were called at that time. Isshou Takahashi was also a lawyer. Kenzo Takahashi was a judge and government official. Although there were many government officials among the 18 founders, many of these individuals subsequently changed careers to become lawyers.

Majority of the founders studied English law at the University of Tokyo, seeking to spread English law in Japan.

-- Regarding Igirisu Horitsu Gakko, why was the decision made to teach English law?

Well, that is another difficult question! There was a strong relationship between the Tokyo University School of Law and the 18 founders of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko. This includes Rokuichiro Masujima, who was the first Principal. Takeo Kikuchi, who served as the second Principal, studied abroad in America (Boston University School of Law) as a foreign exchange student of the Ministry of Education. This foreign study took place in 1875, when Kikuchi was a student at the Tokyo Kaisei Gakko (the predecessor to the University of Tokyo). The following year, Nobushige Hozumi studied abroad in England (Middle Temple). Masujima also entered England's Middle Temple in 1881. Some individuals, such as Kenzo Takahashi, left the University of Tokyo School of Law before completing their studies. Therefore, not all of the founders were graduates of the University of Tokyo, but most of them had strong ties with the university.

Middle Temple, England

Middle Temple, England

English law education was the focus at the University of Tokyo. The reason for this was that although the English, German and French languages were taught during the age of the university's predecessor, Tokyo Kaisei Gakko, it was expensive to have foreign instructors teach at the university. Therefore, a decision was made to focus on a single language, and English was selected because it was the most widely used language in the world.

The reason that focus was placed on English law is that England had the deepest relationship with Japan of any country at that time.

Incidentally, in regards to French law, the Law School at the Department of Justice originally taught French law. The Department of Justice is responsible for editing legal codes, and the model used at that time was the French Civil code.

Accordingly, in order to imitate French law, it was necessary to provide education in French law and to develop capable professionals. For these reasons, the Department of Justice conducted education in French law. The graduates of the Department of Justice went on to establish law schools such as Meiji and Hosei.

-- In the case of Chuo University, our influence was the University of Tokyo, right?

Yes, Chuo had ties to the University of Tokyo. In the case of Senshu, a British and American curriculum was used, but the founders of Senshu were mainly individuals who had studied in America. For this reason, although Senshu used a British and American curriculum, its ties with the University of Tokyo were not particularly strong.

-- So, it can be said that Igirisu Horitsu Gakko was affiliated with the University of Tokyo?

I am not satisfied with the explanation that our university was affiliated with the University of Tokyo. It may have been that way initially, but the situation changed significantly as we approached modern times.

In summary, individuals from the University of Tokyo focused on the outstanding qualities of English law and sought to spread English law throughout Japan. The efforts of these individuals resulted in the creation of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko.

The outstanding practical application of English law. Legal precedent created through the accumulation of facts.

-- The School of Law at the University of Tokyo started from 1878, correct?

The first graduating class was produced in 1878.

-- According to research that I performed before this interview, there were 52 graduates from the School of Law at the University of Tokyo from the time that the first class graduated in 1878 until 1884, the year before Igirisu Horitsu Gakko was founded. 12 of those graduates participated in the founding of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko. There is an overwhelmingly strong connection with the University of Tokyo.

That's right. I believe that the 18 founders of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko possessed on unshakeable conviction in the outstanding qualities of English law. They wanted to thoroughly and systematically teach English law. One feature of English law is its superior practical application. This is the founding philosophy of Chuo University *2.

English law is based on legal precedent. Therefore, the facts which existed and the laws which were applied to those facts are taught as a set. In such as case, students can acquire the principles for the application of law even in cases with a variety of different circumstances. This system allows for extremely flexible application.

I might have to disagree a little with Professor Honma on this point.(laughs). Modern law at that time was European based. There were two different movements occurring in Europe and America. These movements can be simply referred to as continental law and common law.

Continental law was German law and French law, and was based on the Napoleonic Civil codes. Common law was English law and American law. Common law was different from continental law in that it is composed of accumulated facts using the standard of legal precedent. In other words, when judging a current case, processing is performed using the same methods that were applied to a similar case in the past. Common law is not concerned with consulting sections of a certain legal codes.

There is no constitutional law or civil law. Put simply, it is the method of comparison with past examples. It is called the legal precedent method or the customary law method and even the constitution is an accumulation of various written materials. It has not taken the form of legal codes.

Research cases and applying research to actual society. Flexible response to issues through the legal precedent method.

-- Is it true that practical application was created from the legal precedent method?

That's right. Actual cases which occurred are used as the basis for deciding what rules to institute.

During the specific application of laws, the most trouble is caused when handling grey zones and borderline cases. In such situations, research regarding what kind of processing was performed in actual cases previously and research regarding what kind of processing is performed in England is always part of a set with education.

-- That means that careful following of actual events which have transpired is a major pillar of legal study. In that case, it seems that an understanding of social systems will come naturally.

Exactly. Practical application is the name given to the concept of researching specific individual cases, studying, and then getting ideas of how to actually manage society.

The term precedent refers to the results of application. It is a record of how a certain case was handled. However, the concept of continental law is different. The rules are precisely determined. As a result, continental law is performed systematically because of the concept that even unusual cases must be handled if they should occur. A system is created that consists of articles and sections.

On a slightly different note, there is no need to ponder why a country such as India uses English law. After all, India was a colony of England. Also, since the countries of Asia were the colonies of other countries, they don't have the freedom to select a certain legal system. Only Japan had the freedom of choice.

Incidentally, even though the decision was made to adopt common law in Japan, there were some difficulties in instituting pure English law in Japan. These difficulties arose because of differences in the traditions which form the basis of law.

In 1885, French law was a stronger candidate for selection.

However, international society functioned with a focus on England. Also, Japan's deepest relationship was with England. Japan may have been opened by Commodore Perry of America, but afterwards, the relationship between Japan and England was the pillar of our country.
There is also the aspect of practical application which was previously mentioned. Emphasis was placed on practical application and the decision was made to teach English law.

The study of English law enables the most flexible response when confronted with an actual problem.

The 3 instructors respond to interview questions by student reporters.

Training professionals who can handle familiar problems. "Original Document" courses that are studied in English.

The school wanted to train professionals who could handle familiar problems. For example, is it OK to cut the branch of a neighbor's tree when that branch has grown over onto one's own property?

Or, is it OK to eat a neighbor's bamboo shoots that have grown on one's own property?! (laughs)

Well, bamboo shoots were growing even during the Edo Era! (laughs) The question of whether or not it is OK to eat the shoots is decided by a variety of rules, such as customs that existed even before the Edo Era. However, in order to stop using such rules and customs and in order to make judgments based on global standards which are common throughout the world, there is no other choice than to study as hard as possible. This is because our own experiences and customs until this point are no longer relevant.

-- It seems that the School of Law at the University of Tokyo taught courses in English back in the Meiji Period. Why were courses taught in Japanese at Igirisu Horitsu Gakko?

It was very difficult to teach in English. Courses were taught in French in the School of Law at the Department of Justice. 4 years are required to study English or French. That means that 4 years of an 8 year law school course were spent acquiring language ability.

At the time, there was no general knowledge regarding laws. For example, there was no rule regarding how to translate legal terms such as obligation. In such a situation, it is impossible to teach in Japanese. Therefore, foreign teachers were relied upon to conduct the classes.

However, there was the desire to enable the teaching of law in Japanese. After a period of preparation, it finally became possible to teach in Japanese around 1880. However, a special feature of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko was that, even while teaching in Japanese, Original Document courses were created for studying law in English. These courses, which started from 1886 and are extremely unusual for a private university, were created because English ability is necessary to conduct proper education in English law.

Daigennin had a bad reputation at the time. Eliminating malcontents and developing upstanding lawyers.

-- Rokuichiro Masujima and the other 17 founders were passionate regarding moral education, weren't they?

An initial reason for teaching law was that at that time in Japan, the professions of daigennin and lawyer were not recognized by society. Since long ago, disagreements and fights turned into a method of extracting money. In other words, disagreements were started for the purpose of receiving financial compensation. Of course, this wasn't true for all lawyers in Japan.

However, lawyers were highly respected as gentlemen in England. For that reason, lawyers in England imposed very high standards of behavior upon themselves. The founders of the English Law School decided that such respect and self-imposed standards were lacking in Japan.

The daigennin who served as lawyers in Japan at that time had a horrible reputation. I believe that the founders strongly felt that this reputation must be improved in order to improve society itself.

In regards to this point, during a speech at the opening ceremony for the university (September 19, 1885), Rokuichiro Masujima stated that the poor conduct and customs of daigennin would be eliminated through education. He went on to say that the school would produce upstanding lawyers, not the current type of unscrupulous lawyers whose only objective was money. He stated that the development of such upstanding lawyers was the hope of the founders. In this respect, Rokuichiro Masujima was very passionate regarding moral education.

-- All 18 of the founders shared the same dream.

Unlike Keio or Waseda, Chuo University does not have any heroes among its founders. Our university was not founded by a single hero; it was founded by a team. A team composed of 18 young legal professionals.

During our 100th anniversary, we used the term company spirit to refer to one of the characteristics of our university's founding spirit.

-- What does company spirit refer to?

The commitment of all 18 founders to work together in order to operate a university.

To use a current term from political science, it was an association. Basically, I believe that significant meaning should be placed on how the founders cooperated together as a team.

Currently, we use the slogan All-Chuo. During our 100th anniversary, the term company spirit might have been used with a similar meaning.

I believe that all of the founders shared the same urgent consciousness. Therefore, there was no argument over who was trying to stand out or who was trying to act as a leader. I believe that the 18 founders were supported by an urgent consciousness that "we must act quickly to improve our country."

*1: The 18 founders consisted of Rokuichiro Masujima, Isshou Takahashi, Kenkichi Okayama, Kenzo Takahashi, Teruhiko Okamura, Kinosuke Yamada, Takeo Kikuchi, Tetsujiro Nishikawa, Makoto Egi, Jun Isobe, Takasaburo Fujita, Yasushi Hijikata, Yoshito Okuda, Nobushige Hozumi, Masamichi Aikawa, Hajime Motoda, Asaka Watanabe, and Zoji Shibuya.
*2: A document entitled Objectives of the Establishment of Our University was submitted to Tokyo Prefecture by Igirisu Horitsu Gakko as an application for establishing the university. The document stated that "our objective is to teach English law in Japan and to have students engage in practical application of said law." Also, the statement of developing the aspect of practical application was made in an establishment announcement of Igirisu Horitsu Gakko that was published in a supplement of the Choya Newspaper.


Editorial Office and student reporters (Maria Nomura (3rd year student at the Faculty of Commerce), Kanako Ishikawa (2nd year student at the Faculty of Law), and Takito Hori (2nd year student at the Faculty of Letters).