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WILC takes first place in the Best Applicant Memorial division of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition!

Waseda International Law Commission(WILC)
Kenji Otsuka (left)
Misako Orioka (center)
David Yuga Mansfield (right)

In an international law moot court, participants take the roles of the representatives for the applicant and respondent in an imaginary cross-national legal dispute and engage in debate based on international law. The Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (hereafter, “the Jessup Cup”) is the largest international moot court competition, with participants from more than 550 law schools and universities from over 80 countries. The 2014 Jessup Cup was held in April in Washington DC, and members from WILC, a Waseda club, participated for the second consecutive year. At the competition held toward the end of last year, the group turned away veteran schools such as Osaka University, Kyoto University, and Sophia University to grab their ticket.

This year, 130 teams who had won regional tournaments around the world gathered for the final rounds of the competition. One of these was WILC, whose members had set the goal of becoming the first team from Japan to go beyond the preliminary rounds. During the Jessup Cup’s preliminaries, the 130 teams would be whittled down to just 32, and breaking through this barrier would be extremely difficult. The team prepared scrupulously in order to make this momentous achievement.

David Yuga Mansfield, Secretary-General of WILC, offered the following. “In the Jessup Cup, teams compete by getting points in two areas—documents and oral arguments—presented under the setting of the International Court of Justice. The documents are an application summarizing the claims of the oral arguments and both the applicant and the respondent in the case must prepare them in the competition. The period of time between when the topics of the debates are announced and the due date for submitting materials is about two months. Although the topics are fictitious, they combine elements from numerous actual cases and so we wanted to make claims that were not theoretical but rather based on reality.”

WILC’s opponent in the preliminaries of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition was the Republic of Guatemala’s team. The Waseda team was troubled by difficulties in following spoken English.

As such, the team put in a phenomenal amount of effort.

Misako Orioka, the group’s treasurer, stated, “The topics at this year’s competition were broadly divided into the laws of the sea and environmental laws. We used libraries at various universities and websites from other countries to figure out what nations around the world thought about the various laws, ultimately looking up laws in 193 countries.”

Having come in contact with these laws for the first time, the team read literature about them in various languages and created English documents. They performed this difficult task with aplomb and their efforts were rewarded. At the competition, the team achieved Japan’s first win in the Best Applicant Memorial division, and, combined with their respondent score, the team took 17th place overall in the documents division.

Conversely, during oral arguments the team experienced just how high the barriers between countries can be. As the international legal scholars and practicing lawyers serving as judges let loose with unsparing questions, the team was required to provide precise answers in English.

Discussing the team’s regret at ultimately not managing to break through the preliminary rounds, Mansfield offered, “You not only have to answer the questions accurately in English, you also have to win over the judge with convincing arguments and make a skillful presentation. That’s where we really felt the difference between the participants from other countries.” Immediately after their intense battle, however, the team felt invigorated.

Kenji Otsuka, Vice Secretary-General of WILC, told us, “Thinking back on the fact that we were able to stand as representatives of Japan on an international stage and the close time we spent together working to achieve that, I really felt a big sense of achievement.”

In their third year at Waseda, members of WILC retire from active participation to serve as coaches for the first year students and as advisors for the second year students who participate in competitions. Hoping that in the near future there will come a day where their juniors in the group achieve great success at the Jessup Cup, they will pass on their valuable experience to them.

First year students try their first moot court at the group’s summer training camp.

Many of the group’s members flocked to Washington DC to support those participating in the Jessup Cup.

On the last day of the competition the teams attended a party wearing national dress and mingled.


Kenji Otsuka (left)
Third Year, School of Law

Originally from Kanagawa, Kenji Otsuka graduated from Hiratsuka Konan High School. He is the Vice Secretary-General of WILC. Otsuka is currently spending his days studying for the civil service examination.

Misako Orioka (center)
Third Year, School of Law

Originally from Tokyo, Misako Orioka graduated from Japan Women’s University Senior High School. She is the WILC’s treasurer. Her hobbies include shopping and making confections.

David Yuga Mansfield (right)
Third Year, School of Law

Originally from Miyagi, David Yuga Mansfield graduated from Sendai Daiichi High School. He is the Secretary-General of WILC. His favorite activity is talking with friends.