作者/科法所 秋元奈穗子 老師
I am a new faculty coming from Japan this summer and appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself in this newsletter.
In my academic research, I especially focused on medical law and ethics in Japan and the U.S. In addition to my research in academia, I have practiced as a lawyer in an international law firm in Tokyo.
My primary idea on the legal research is to look into the function of law in the social context, not only to stick to the interpretation of individual laws. Especially in the field of law for medicine and bioethics, I have a strong interest in to what extent law, as one of the social tools can or can’t play a role in medicine, which have had different discipline led by physicians and used to have little interaction with legal system.
While majority of legal scholars in Japan tend to discuss only about the issues on law and bioethics related to their own field of law, such as civil law, criminal law or administrative law, by the extension of their traditional interpretation of law, American legal studies have broader and interdisciplinary view of laws and emphasize the social aspects of law. Thus, I use the method of comparative law of Japanese law and American law to analyze problems in the field of law and bioethics and health law and to find their solutions.
For my Ph.D. study, I chose the issue of evolution of a whole legal system for the safety of drugs. I demonstrated that we could find a newly developed legal system where multiple laws differently facilitate each of the actors involved in the field of medication, that is, physicians, patients, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists, and regulators to communicate each other properly for the purpose of drug safety. I hope that the view and analysis of my thesis adds the new perspective for pharmaceutical law in Japan and in Taiwan as well.
Because of some achievement of my Ph.D. research, I was invited to help establishing the basis of a newly established agency for further enhancing Japanese medical research, Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, at the Department of Research Integrity and Legal Affairs. As a manager, I worked with other members to consolidate rules on funded medical research, such as rules of conflict of interest, research misconduct and its investigation and education of research ethics, as well as giving advice for variety of legal issues in the agency.
In addition to introducing my research, I’d like to share my experience as a lawyer in an international law firm in Tokyo, which is also a precious experience for me.
I joined an international law firm and mainly work for commercial transactions, international and domestic litigations, general corporate law and bankruptcy and reorganization cases for about 7 years. My purpose to practice law had been to be once involved in the place where we apply law and see with my eyes how the law functions in reality.
The year I joined the firm, the world experienced the financial crisis triggered by bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, which also greatly affected Japan. Since the law firm I belonged to was famous for its practice of both domestic and international reorganization and bankruptcy, many banks and financial institutions rushed into our firm asking to negotiate with Lehman Brothers Japan. As a junior associate, I was lucky to assist partners as well as our colleagues in N.Y. office to deal with cases related to those cases both theoretically and practically inspiring.
Coming back from my study in the U.S., I was assigned mainly to international cases, such as negotiations for license and sales agreements, litigations, merger and acquisition cases. One of the most interesting cases was an international disputes representing Japanese trading company which as an intermediary faced with two disputes in different countries for manufacturing and sales of aircrafts, one in the U.S. against American company at an arbitration panel and the other is against Japanese largest manufacturing company at the Tokyo district court. Though this case was very challenging as I needed to keep an eye on both dispute under different law and jurisdiction, I experienced the dynamic of international disputes involving multiple players.
I hope I can deliver some of my exciting experience as a practitioner through my classes to students who will lead Taiwanese legal practice as lawyers, judges or prosecutors in the near future.
I wrote too much about my research and legal practice because this is a newsletter of law school but a bit worry that my essay becomes too serious. In my private life, I’m a movie lover since I was in junior high school until now. I prefer to see a bit minor movies in small theaters but I like some of Hollywood movies, too. When I was studying in law school (which was established under the judicial reform in the early 2000’s in order to make it more similar system to the U.S. system), two of my friends and I started to have an activity to show movies monthly in law school classrooms in order for law school students to have some relaxed time. We were impolite enough to ask a professor of legal jurisprudence to be our “teacher of our movie activity” and he was willing to do that. Surprisingly, because of the professor’s help, the activity was succeeded by students in law school and last year celebrated 10th anniversary. Before moving to Taiwan from Tokyo, I asked the professor and students to show Taiwanese movie next time!
As of the date I’ writing this essay, about two months have passed since I moved to Taiwan and about three weeks since the semester started. I’m very happy to teach pharmaceutical law and English legal writing, which are my favorite areas as a scholar and as a practitioner, surrounded by outstanding professors, kind and supportive staffs and smart and cute students. Also, I feel very honored to have chances to introduce Japanese medical law and business law in meetings and conferences in Taiwan as a Japanese scholar.
I’m enjoying my life in Taiwan, the home country of my husband.
I’m looking forward more to doing my research and to teaching. Especially, I’d like to help students to pursue international studies and experience. As an individual who has the fortune to have Taiwanese family, I hope to be a bridge between our school and Japanese universities and firms.