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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2014)

Waseda rediscovery
Photo: Yoichi Sato

cover story

Courtroom classroom which fulfills the pedigree of cultivating legal professionals

The origin of the Waseda University School of Law can be traced back to the Department of Law when Tokyo Senmon Gakko was founded in 1882.
At that time, the clan government viewed the school as an anti-government institution cultivating democratic rights ideology. This view was taken due to the school’s founder Shigenobu Okuma, who was banished by the government during the 1881 Political Crisis. As such, the school was subject to frequent government interference.
In 1883, the government prohibited judges, public prosecutors and professors of the former imperial universities from giving lectures at private schools.
This was a particularly harsh blow for the Waseda University Department of Law. The school’s existence was endangered by decreased enrollment due to lack of instructors, as well as by university officials who argued for abolishing the department.
This difficult period was overcome thanks to the passion and effort of Okuma and other officials. Since then, the Waseda University School of Law has continued to produce legal professionals and numerous other outstanding scholars for more than 130 years.
When looking at courses offered in the school’s early day, the title “Application of Law to Crime and Judgment” catches one’s eye. This shows how the school conducted practical legal debate and mock trials even from its early stages.
Today, the courtroom classroom is located in the Building No. 8 on the Waseda Campus. The classroom is used by the Waseda Law School to conduct mock trials, carrying on the unbroken tradition of cultivating legal professionals at Waseda University.