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Judicial Review in Japan – a Limited Mechanism or an Agent of Democratization

Sigal Ben-Rafael Galanti

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In this paper, we focus on democratic Japan (from 1945 onwards) and the adaptation to the mechanism of judicial review by its public. Through this case we hope to shed light on the existence of the non-Western democratization model. Furthermore, there is an attempt to argue that the development of a civic culture following the uptake of democratic structures is possible - and can even happen when these structures are limited. All in all, the attitudes towards judicial review may bring us to the conclusion that adopting democratic organs can encourage a dynamic of democratization of the political behavior and most of all – they may serve as an engine for the internalization of a civic culture. Hence we will show that however restricted they may be, the adoption of democratic mechanisms in Japan has been a catalyst for developing a civil culture, and still is. It supports those theories considering Japan a liberal democracy and confirms the non-Western democratization model.
Keywords: Japanese democracy – judicial review – democratization model – liberal values