This article examines various moments in the constitutional rights of foreigners in Japan. Beginning with the drafting of the Japanese Constitution, it shows how Japanese members of the drafting committee did not passively accept whatever their American counterparts “foisted” on them, but quite deliberately sculpted and limited the reach of the Constitution through word choice and selective translation. It then examines several lawsuits, from the 1970s to the 2000s, where foreigners have asserted various rights in Japanese courts. In the absence of constitutional rights, foreigners must rely on Japanese statutory law, guided by international law, to buttress their claims to various entitlements.


Constitution, rights of non-citizens, translation, synchronic, diachronic

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Place of Original Publication

Cornell International Law Journal

Publication Information

39 Cornell International Law Journal 435 (2006)


COinS Timothy Webster Faculty Bio