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students outside of Oahu Correctional Center

Japanese law students and faculty visited the Oʻahu Community Correctional Center during their 2015 visit.

Beginning February 29 the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law will host 41 law students and 9 faculty members from four universities in Japan for a two-week immersion program in the American legal system, Hawaiʻi style. The group will be in Hawaiʻi from Feb. 29 to March 10.

“We’re giving them exposure to a wide variety of aspects of American laws, with customized class lectures, site visits to various institutions including state and federal courts, the State Capitol, the prison and the Women’s Community Correctional Center,” said Spencer Kimura, director of the LLM and summer programs at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

“We also hope that by exposing them to American law, and the legislative, judicial and criminal justice systems, it will pique their interest in studying abroad in the future,” said Kimura. Richardson Law School offers both an LLM degree in law and an advanced juris doctor for foreign-trained lawyers.

Japanese law students during their 2015 visit to the state capitol.

Japanese law students during their 2015 visit to the State Capitol.

Law school opens its doors

This is the 13th year that the UH law school has opened its doors to this specialized program for Japanese law students; since it began in 2004 more than 200 students have visited the UH law school. This year’s group is the largest to date, with the 50 visiting students and faculty coming from the University of the Ryukus, Aoyama Gakuin University, Meiji University, and Aichi University.

School of Law Dean Avi Soifer said he is always happy to welcome the group and to have them meet and share time with Hawaiʻi law students, as well as to have the opportunity to meet the Governor and Hawaiʻi judges, legislators and lawyers.

“Our law school is pleased to have longstanding ties to many Japanese law schools,” said Soifer. “We are always pleased to welcome these visitors warmly and to be able to show them some of the reasons that we have such pride in our students and in Hawai’i generally.”

Japanese students meet with Hawaiʻi lawyers

Excursions for the Japanese law students will also include a visit to the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court as well as to the Goodsill Anderson Quinn and Stifel law firm and a visit with Hawaiʻi State Bar Association president Jodi Yi.

“In the past they’ve been very impressed with how open our judges are to speak with them,” said Kimura. “They’ve met with supreme court justices. Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna spoke to them in Japanese which kind of blew their socks off.” (McKenna’s first language was Japanese.)

Kimura said the Japanese law students last year were also deeply moved by an ʻoli chanted for them by inmates at the Women’s Community Correctional Center. “It was really touching to a lot of the visitors,” said Kimura.

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