Report No. 77
8.3. Conciliation in Japan.-
The characteristics of the conciliation system in Japan have been given in a publication entitled "Outline of Civil Trial in Japan" issued by the Supreme Court of Japan in 1969. The passages in this respect read as under1:
"4. Conciliation Cases.
Conciliation is a system peculiar to Japan. Its special characteristic is to settle disputes not by means of a formal court decision but by mutual concession of the parties concerned through the good offices of the Conciliation Committee, composed of either one judge or one judge and two Conciliation Commissioners, appointed from among the people in general. Since the proceedings are simple and inexpensive, the extent of utilization is very great. So, in one sense, it may be said that it fulfils a part of function of legal aid in our country.
In 1968, cases newly received for conciliation numbered 54,323 while the total number of cases received by the courts of the first instance was 184,808. The ratio between the two is roughly one to three. Judging from this fact, we can easily tell what an important part the process of conciliation plays in settling civil disputes. It may also be interesting to note that the number of cases involving domestic disputes newly received for conciliation in 1965 of the Domestic Relations Division of the Family Court amounted to 60,015.
Historically this system was originally adopted in 1922 for the purpose of settling disputes involving land and house lease as indicated in the Law for Conciliation concerning Lease of Land or House, but since then its scope has been expanded and now it is made available to settle all types of civil disputes.
The proceedings in conciliation cases are commenced, as a rule, on the application of the parties concerned, but the courts on their own motion, occasionally refer cases pending before them for conciliation. Determination as to whether a case should be disposed of by the Conciliation Committee or by the judge is a matter within the discretion of the court. On the date of conciliation, the Committee or the judge in charge as the case may be, summons the parties concerned and endeavours to settle the disputes either by persuading them to make concessions, or by suggesting proper conditions of settlement.
When conciliation is successfully accomplished, the terms of conciliation are entered in a protocol. Such a protocol has the same force and effect as a finally binding judgment. On the other hand, if the conciliation has not been successful, the proceedings come to an end with the disputes still remaining, unsettled. In that event, if the court deems it necessary, it may resort to the judicial process and adjudicate the case by entering a judgment in place of an agreement, taking every circumstance into consideration, regardless of the failure of conciliation."
1. Supreme Court of Japan, Outline of Civil Trail in Japan,(1969).