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An interesting thing about Japan: For a country that supposedly hates litigation, it has a lot of courts. There’s the Supreme Court, eight high courts with six branches, 50 district courts (one for each prefecture, except Hokkaido, which gets four), a further 203 district court branches, 50 family courts — 203 branches for them, with an additional 77 branch offices and 438 summary courts. All told it amounts to a nationwide network of over 1,000 courts.

Another interesting thing: For a country with a lot of courts, Japan doesn’t have very many judges — 3,841 according to the most recent census published by the judiciary. This includes the chief judge of the Supreme Court, the court’s 14 other judges, the chief judges of the eight high courts, 2,035 judges, 877 assistant judges (those with less than 10 years’ experience) and 806 summary court judges. Of these, not all have even passed the highly competitive national bar exam; “summary court judge” is a separate category of bench-sitters whose ranks are open to judicial and Justice Ministry administrators with suitable experience. Such judges can only handle matters brought before summary courts.

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