The Civil Code Controversy in Meiji Japan

The Struggle to Modernize the Nation

Author: Michal A. Piegzik

About this book

The book outlines a dramatic history of the failed liberalization of Japanese private law during the Meiji era. Once Japan overthrew the shogunate and fully opened up to contact with the world, modernization of the backward country and its fragmented customary legal system became a crucial objective of the new ruling elites. The initiated codification of law included the drafting of the first Civil Code, designed to revolutionize the traditional societal ties in Japan. The legal project, seemingly straightforward, turned out to be notoriously difficult and dragged on for three decades. More importantly, it led to a national controversy, dividing the Japanese jurisprudence into two opposing factions, which supported drastically different visions of the Civil Code and thus, the country’s future.


Michał A. Piegzik has a PhD in Japanese private law, lecturing family law and children’s rights law at Edinburgh Napier University. He was awarded the Japanese Ministry of Education scholarship for exceptional research results. In 2016–2017 and 2020–2022, he researched Japanese legal history at the Tokyo Metropolitan University. The Pacific War is his life’s passion which also, remarkably influenced his academic skills and career path. The author of six monographs and 20 articles related to law and history, The Civil Code Controversy in the Meiji Era Japan, published by Leiden University Press in 2024, is his debut in the Netherlands.


Pages: 270

Illustrated: Black and White

ISBN Print: 9789087284503

ISBN ePUB: 9789400604902

Published: 1 April 2024

Language: English

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