Throughout the unit, I acquired an understanding of the Japanese legal system, which is based largely on the continental European model. This is significantly different to the Australian model, which is based on the common law legal tradition. Thus, while the unit was based on familiar concepts such as contract, corporate governance and constitutional law, it introduced and unpacked these from a Japanese perspective. I found that aspects such as constitutional law were particularly important in acquiring a nuanced understanding of strategic and geopolitical issues in East Asia. This is especially so for Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits Japan from initiating armed conflict. Attempts to revise this clause have proven a diplomatic powder keg for nations such as China and Korea, which suffered under Japanese imperialism in the 20th Century. Perhaps most importantly, an understanding of Japanese regulations and consumer law will be essential for Australian industries, such as manufacturing and agriculture, that aim to acquire a larger share of the Japanese market. This view is buttressed by the fact that Japan remains Australia’s second largest trading partner and Australia’s largest source of foreign direct investment.
The Union Travelling Scholarship has given me the opportunity to learn about Japanese law such that I am prepared to work on international legal issues as well as Australia’s economic, political and security relationship with Japan. I feel that it has helped to prepare me to develop effective policy and strategic ties between Australia and Japan, and more broadly, with the Indo-Pacific region. I once again thank the College Union for giving me the opportunity to participate in the offshore study program.