Law, Norms, and Legal Change: Global and Local in China and Japan

The editors of the Michigan Journal of International Law have boldly brought together four articles and commentary that focus on different aspects of the same problem in China and Japan: the relationship between domestic legal change and foreign and/or “international” law and regulation, “soft” agreements, norms, or even cultural practices. The compilation is bold in part because scholarship on change in East Asian law and legal systems often suffers from one of two defects. First, it often focuses on purely domestic phenomena in only one system, ignoring the comparative connections. Second, scholars often attack the problem from an exclusively comparative perspective, setting up two apparently different systems, one “developed” and the other “backward” or “unsophisticated,” with accompanying commentary on how they clash or how the latter “conforms” or “measures up” to the former.