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Home > Campus Now > My study,My career: Spring Verdure Issue (May)

Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May)

My study,My career

Introducing female researchers active at Waseda University.

Waseda 150 Vision defines the ideal form of our university as we move toward our 150th anniversary in 2032.
One aspect of the vision is "Waseda research which contributes to world peace and the happiness of mankind." As we work to achieve this goal, we expect new perspectives and ideas to be introduced through the activities of female researchers. In the first edition of this series, we spoke with Professor Kayoko Kitagawa of Waseda Law School.

Studying the appeal of theory and cultivating the ability to think from various perspectives

Professor Kayoko Kitagawa
Waseda Law School

Becoming a researcher to pursue clear and theoretical criminal law

Criminal law is a field of law for punishing criminals. As a result, it seems that people without expertise in law often view the field as severe or scary. I am often asked why a woman pursued a career in criminal law. However, upon actually studying criminal law, I felt that the theoretical thinking of the genre was extremely clear when compared to other fields of law. Criminal law is a field of law used to exercise national punitive authority. Mistaken application of such authority would result in a violation of human rights. Therefore, it is necessary for criminal law to have a solid theoretical foundation and basis. Also, there are many cases of fierce disagreement between conflicting theories in criminal law. I was interested in the theoretical differences behind such conflicts.

I currently teach at Waseda Law School, where there are few female instructors. However, I clearly remember there being only one female instructor of law when I was a student in the Waseda University School of Law. However, I wasn't bothered by this fact when I decided to enter graduate school. I decided to enter graduate school because there were still many things that I didn't understand about the criminal law which I had studied in my university seminar, and I wanted to study more. I was also influenced by the large number of older students from the seminar who intended to enter graduate school, as well as my other friends from university who were pursuing higher education. In contrast to entering society and beginning to work, I had a more specific image of entering graduate school and continuing my studies.

Acquire the ability to think from different perspectives

I would like students to acquire the ability to consider matters from different perspectives. For example, we often review judicial precedent in seminars at the Waseda Law School. In addition to understanding the position of the judgment, I have students think about what kind of theory can be used to make different allegations from the perspective of the defense lawyer and prosecutor. Some students may take the attitude that seminars should focus exclusively on examination of judicial precedent in order to study efficiently for the bar exam. Others may feel that the ability to substantiate one's own opinion is sufficient. However, such attitudes are unacceptable for increasing abilities to work as a legal professional in the future. Legal practice doesn't end with simply asserting one's own position. It is also necessary to use past precedent as a hint for predicting your opponent's position and to consider effective counterarguments. For this reason, it is necessary to understand a variety of opinions. I feel that many students become even more interested when academic theory is compared to the assertions made by lawyers and prosecutors.

It is interesting how simply modifying the study process or access method can bring about changes in students' response. I am conscious that although judicial precedent is important to graduate students seeking to become legal researchers, such students are conducting research with the goal of constructing another opinion which is the ideal theory. In the case of undergraduate students, it is necessary to carefully select cases which tickle intellectual curiosity in order to get students to show interest in criminal law. As long as they are interested, even undergraduate students will immerse themselves in theory and give outstanding reports. A characteristic of Waseda is how many students show a spirit of defiance in terms of taking positions which differ from the actual precedent.

I want to interact more with students in order to develop their individuality

One of challenges that I faced was balancing my work and family life even as I sought to shape my career. At the same time that women work to build their careers, they will most likely experience the life event of having children. This is true for all professions, not only researchers. It is very difficult for a woman to handle all the child-raising duties. Fortunately, my husband and I cooperate with each other. In some respects, this has been made possible by the environment at my husband's workplace. Furthermore, other instructors at Waseda University have shown consideration for my situation and provided generous support. Although it hasn't been easy, I have been able to continue my career thanks to understanding and cooperation from the people around me. Even so, I haven't been able to devote sufficient time to my research and interaction with students. Together with my child's growth, I have been able to interact more with students, including private time during overnight workshops. I hope to instruct students in a way that develops their individuality. I also intend to stay in touch with students who have graduated in order to expand our human network through interaction between current students and alumni.

Criminal law-related literature used in the class

Professor Kitagawa keeps a letter from her son in her daily planner. She reads the letter to refresh herself when encountering difficulties at work

Professor Kayoko Kitagawa
Waseda Law School

Graduate from the Waseda University School of Law. Completed the Master's Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Law. Completed the Doctoral Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Law. Served as Assistant Professor at the Japan Coast Guard Academy and Professor at the Okayama University School of Law before becoming a Professor at Waseda Law School in 2007. Her area of expertise is criminal law.