Bridging Borders: Notre Dame Law School Welcomes Visiting Scholars from Japan

Author: Arienne Calingo

Japanese Visiting Scholars

Each year, Notre Dame Law School's Visiting Scholars Program hosts several exceptional international scholars, legal practitioners, professors, judges, civil society leaders, and government officials. The program is part of an incredibly long-standing relationship between Notre Dame Law School and Japan, which began with the international exchange of Japanese legal practitioners in 1967.

Currently, the Law School has a program with the Supreme Court of Japan, in which the Supreme Court typically selects one judge and one prosecutor for the program every year. The program with Japan serves as an opportunity for Japanese courts and prosecutors’ offices to help globalize the legal system in Japan. During the 2023-24 academic year, the Law School hosted three visiting scholars from Japan: Professor Makoto Kawami (Aoyama Gakuin University), Prosecutor Takahide Tokumitsu, and Judge Koutarou Ogura (Tokyo District Court).

Professor Kawami teaches in the Department of Community Studies at Aoyama Gakuin University. His research interests lie in current trends in natural law theory and how they apply to critical contemporary legal issues, particularly in Japan. His work focuses on bioethics, social services, and a range of global issues, and explores the meaning and application of fundamental legal concepts, including liberty, life, welfare, equality, and peace from the perspective of human dignity and care. Kawami was also a visiting scholar at Notre Dame Law School during the 1999-2000 academic year.

Prosecutor Tokumitsu has been working as a Japanese prosecutor for six years. At Notre Dame Law School, he conducted research on the reduction of written documents and the change to electronic evidence in criminal proceedings. He also researched policies and practices regarding the confiscation of crypto assets from criminals.

Judge Ogura serves as a judge for the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo. He focuses on civil code and civil procedure, mainly dealing with civil cases that are concerned with loan repayments, the surrender of real estate, default, tort, and medical malpractice. At Notre Dame, he researched the arrangement of issues and evidence (pleadings and discovery) in the United States. By learning about the digitization of the judicial system in the United States, Ogura seeks to find ways to improve the usage of digital technologies in the Japanese legal system.

“Our history of welcoming judges and prosecutors from Japan to Notre Dame Law School is longstanding and we’re delighted to be continuing it. We look forward to welcoming our new visitors next year,” said Professor Paul Miller, Associate Dean for International and Graduate Programs, and Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law.

“I am confident that all the experiences Notre Dame has given me and the results of my studies at Notre Dame will have a positive impact on the Japanese Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Justice, and the people of Japan,” said Tokumitsu. “I hope that the wonderful and traditional relationship between the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and the University of Notre Dame will continue in perpetuity.”

During the 2023-24 academic year, the Law School hosted visiting scholars from London, Kenya, Australia, France, Japan, the Netherlands, and Italy. This coming academic year, the Law School will continue to host visiting scholars from across the world, including Chile, Ireland, Germany, Kenya, and Israel.

Notre Dame Law School is committed to educating a “different kind of lawyer” and shaping our students to develop cultural competence and a global perspective in order to understand how legal issues may transcend borders.

Learn more about Notre Dame Law School’s International Programs here:

Originally published by Arienne Calingo at on May 28, 2024.