With discussions on constitutional reform increasing, there has been a focus on the state of constitutional law studies. Generally speaking, this field is critical of proposals for the constitutional reform put forth in politics and the news media, and this criticism itself has been subject to criticism. Since approximately July 2014, when the Japanese government changed its view to allow partial exercise of collective self-defense, many constitutional scholars have spoken in the news media, and this has again drawn controversy to the field of constitutional law studies from a variety of positions.
The intent of this book is not to predict and respond to the excessive politicization of this academic field. Rather, this book is a record of eight discussions held over a period of roughly two years beginning in January 2014—seeking the possibility of mutual understanding and dialogue—concerning the nature of the relationship of constitutional law studies with neighboring fields of study. These discussions invited researchers from neighboring fields who have an understanding and interest in constitutional law to give keynote reports, including candidly raising problems and criticism of this area of study, followed by a response from Professors Masahiro Sogabe and Tatsuhiko Yamamoto and myself.
All of the guest speakers—close in age to the three hosts—are promising young researchers and leaders in their respective fields. Both professors Tadashi Mori and Takeshi Fujitani are currently at this University, and Eri Kasagi and Professor Masatsugu Ito are researchers who have studied at our Graduate Schools for Law and Politics. While there was concern that the invitees would feel “outnumbered in enemy territory” and forced to defend themselves, they were pleased to accept the invitations, and I sincerely appreciate their extremely constructive discussions.
Professors Sogabe and Yamamoto, who are the other hosts, belong to the same generation as me, and we often cooperate in research and practice in the fields of constitutional and information law. In some cases, however, it was enjoyable to discover that differences in background and individuality arose when responding to inquiries from other fields.
The original discussions were published in Horitsujiho, a monthly magazine. In this type of talk, there are concerns that participants will ramble, or conversely that the discussion will become overly specialized. I take pride in the fact that the discussions in this book reveal similar understandings and differences in approach concerning points shared by constitutional law and neighboring areas of study from a variety of angles, while maintaining the sense of tension among the participants. At the same time, it goes without saying that I gained a great deal of extremely useful viewpoints and knowledge concerning my research.
Constitutional law is a field of study that has developed into its present form by constantly reexamining its own presuppositions through encountering knowledge from other fields and at times consuming it, and at other times allowing it to transform the framework of its own dialogue and occasionally strictly demolishing this framework. This book is a record of the intellectual struggles of our generation up until now. It is my hope that it stimulates developments in the field of constitutional law studies and serves as a starting point for lay readers with a healthy intellect to correctly recognize the ultimate goals of this discipline and offer criticism.
(Written by George Shishido, Professor of Graduate Schools for Law and Politics / 2018)