ABSTRACT

Much of the English language commentary on Japan’s PL Law over the 1990s

lacked a full historical perspective (e.g. Green 1996; Melchinger 1997), a broad

comparative perspective (e.g. Dauvergne 1994), or sufficient attention to both

legal and social science dimensions (e.g. Maclachlan 1999, 2002). This chapter

begins by sketching the evolution – and sometimes the revolution, or devolution

– of PL in the US, the UK and the EU, and Australia (see generally Howells

1993). It introduces the importance of the legal, notably the contrasting types of

cases and doctrinal approaches underpinning legislative initiatives in the US, and

the UK or the EU, along with the hybrid situations in Australia and Japan. It also

shows parallels in the politicization of PL law reforms particularly since the 1960s

(in the US), the 1980s (in the EU), and the 1990s (in Australia and Japan), as well

as a tendency back to more pro-defendant regimes in the US and (very recently)

Australia, contrasting with gradually expanding pro-consumer stances in Japan

and (especially now) the EU. This lays some broad comparative foundations for

the chapter’s later detailed analysis of the ‘re-birth’ of PL in Japan since the late

1980s, which rebuilt from ‘still-birth’ in the mid-1970s; and for Chapter 3’s more

detailed black-letter law comparison of the PL Law with the present regimes in

the US, the EU and Australia.