The Director of the Japan Legal Information Institute
Tomoko Masuda,
Professor of Politics, Nagoya University

In the age of globalization, people and goods move across national borders swiftly and frequently. Given their unique histories and cultures, however, each country is running its society in its own way. It is therefore essential to form penetrating understanding of diverse societies in order to avoid needless friction and tension. We have never experienced such an age where deep international understanding must be formed in the shortest time.

The law is one of the foremost sources of information for international understanding. The law contains blueprints of institutions of a country as well as frameworks of a society and as such it carries highly condensed information to understand economic behavior and diverse social activities of each country. The core of the law is codes and statutes. It is for this reason that each government works hard to translate codes and statutes into English and other languages.

Law in books is, however, not necessarily law governing social reality. To grasp living law in a society, more relevant information such as court judgments and non-legal knowledge are necessary.

Computers could provide enormous information that might be relevant to the promotion of international understanding. But it is far from an easy task to select truly essential information in a very limited time from the vast pile of information. In order to pinpoint needed information instantaneously, painstaking and continuing study of information processing is indispensable.

The Japan Legal Information Institute (JaLII) will engage in basic research providing translations of Japanese law in various languages, the project of annotating translated laws, and basic study on how to share the vast amount of legal information in the most efficient way. Through this research and these projects the Institute will strive to promote international understanding in the age of globalization. Formation of an international network of lawyers, information scientists, economists, historians and other scientists is a key to enhancement of this research and these projects. The Japan Legal Information Institute wishes to provide information and encourage development of a global network of diverse professionals.

I would like to request your generous support and understanding.