This book is an introductory text to the Civil Code that thoroughly explains its fundamental points. Terms like “fundamental points” and “introductory text” might make this book seem basic, but that isn’t the case. To explain why it isn’t, we have to go back to why I decided to write this book in the first place.
The primary reason I wrote this book is that students of other subjects have the impression that being a law student is all about rote learning. Our students apparently memorize the provisions of the laws, they memorize legal precedents, and they memorize many more documents—in any case, a lot of memorization is involved. However, if memorization was all that there was required, the survival of Law as an academic discipline since the Middle Ages would be inexplicable.
The world is an ever-changing place, and these changes engender the need for interpersonal adjustments. The methods employed for this adjustment depend on the time period. The method in use today has been gradually formed over long periods. Well then, we may ask, what kind of methods do people use today? Why do they use them? Is it an old-fashioned method that people resort to simply because people before them had resort to it in the past or is it based on logic and reason? By thinking through these things, we learn about the way in which society is organized, and one of the ways found is Law.
With regard to the rules for making such adjustments, the Civil Code is merely one field among several others. However, this field is understood as stipulating important rules that form the foundation of various methods. With this in mind, I decided to write an explanation of the Civil Code from the abovementioned perspective. Specifically, I tried to clearly explain in everyday language why things are the way they are. Many books have claimed to give an introduction to the Civil Code, but they have failed to adequately explain the basic rationale of the field. Many of them simply consist of dry enumerations of facts: The Civil Code contains such and such an article. Applying the Civil Code brings about such and such a solution. I wanted to ameliorate the situation—this thinking resulted in this publication.
As I said at the beginning, this book is an introductory text. So, learning the various rules that you find here does not mean that you will be equipped to handle any particular lawsuit. However, this book does explain—and thoroughly—many points that hitherto available textbooks have failed to adequately cover; therefore, much content in this book is new. In addition, this introduction does not cover the existing system as a given, requiring no need of explanation. Looking at the extant system and thinking about why it came to be this way gives us a new understanding of the system as such. In that sense, I am satisfied that this introduction is “academic” enough in its content.
I will be pleased as an author if the reader understands that law is a social science and that as a social science it is an academic field that subjects the society we live in to scrutiny and analysis.
The predecessor to this book, Seminar: Introduction to the Civil Code, was published in 2002. Although it subsequently came out in a number of revisions, the 2017 revision to the Civil Code made it appropriate to conduct a complete overhaul of the contents. In this new work, I have also discussed the previously omitted areas of family and succession law. In my coverage of these fields in particular, I have used statistics and other means to elucidate a clear picture of the contemporary family.
(Written by DOGAUCHI Hiroto, Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics / 2017)