Meet: Hiromi Naito from Japan

Hiromi Naito spent one year at Bucerius and researched on criminal procedures.

Education & Study |

What is the major focus of your research in Japan and here at Bucerius?

My primary area of research is criminal procedure law. So far, I have focused on the issue of provocation (incitement) and undercover investigations. At the moment, I am particularly concerned with secret investigations and information gathering. In Germany, these issues have been the subject of lively discussion for a long time, both in jurisprudence and literature more generally.

By contrast, in my opinion these issues have not as yet received the attention they deserve in Japan. The dangers associated with obtaining and storing data have been regarded as insignificant. But in recent years, questions pertaining to this issue are increasingly coming to the fore. That is why I decided to compare German and Japanese law on this topic.

Why did you decide to conduct your research in Germany, and at Bucerius in particular?

When it modernised, Japan imitated the Prussian social system, and the first modern Japanese constitution was modelled on the Prussian one. Since then, Japan’s legal system and jurisprudence have been heavily influenced by German law. The Japanese Code of Criminal Procedure used to be similar to the German Empire Criminal Procedure Code, but after World War II the Code of Criminal Procedure was reformed.

Therefore, it is said that today’s Japanese criminal procedure law adopts the so-called US criminal procedure system. However, the common-law system has not been fully adopted in Japan, and the legal system and jurisprudence of Germany still have a significant impact on the country.

As I pointed out above, I am interested in researching undercover investigations. From 2009 to 2012, I addressed the question of using the witness statement of an undercover agent. In Japan, the witness must be heard at the trial, which is required to take place in front of all the relevant participants, including the defendants. However, the question is whether hearsay evidence should be allowed when the court is dealing with the evidence of an undercover agent. During this period of research, I read many articles on this topic to understand the legal position in Germany.

In particular, a dissertation by Professor Karsten Gaede, “Fairness als Teilhabe”, 2005, was very enlightening for me. In 2012, I met him for the first time, and from that time onwards have visited him at least once a year. For some time, I have been very keen to carry out research under Professor Gaede. I received research funds from the Japanese government for this year, and since the end of March have been able to conduct research under Professor Gaede.

The Japanese National Fund scholarship also allows me, after my research visit, to organize a conference on 12 October at Kumamoto University in Japan. It will be attended by Professor Gaede and Professor Jens Puschke from Marburg, as well as Japanese researchers. The title of the conference is expected to be “The admissibility of criminal data storage for potential criminal proceedings in Germany and Japan” (Die Zulässigkeit strafprozessualer Datenspeicherung zugunsten zukünftiger Strafverfahren in Deutschland und Japan).

What was the most rewarding aspect of your stay at Bucerius?

Above all, I must acknowledge the great hospitality of Professor Gaede. He always supported me, both academically and personally. Thanks to his assistance, I was able to research in a wonderful environment. For example, I was given a working space in the Visiting Scholar Room. In July, I was invited to a seminar on tax criminal law on Sylt island, and in November I visited the European Court of Justice and the European Parliament. In addition, Professor Gaede and his wife often invited me for coffee or dinner. Such occasions were really precious experiences for me in Hamburg.

In the Visiting Scholar Room there are colleagues from many different countries, and I had a good opportunity to get to know them. We sometimes ate lunch together in the cafeteria and talked to each other about our research.

Various events are continually taking place at Bucerius Law School. They are not only academic, but also recreational. Last summer we watched a World Cup football match, Germany against South Korea, while drinking beer on the campus lawns. Unfortunately, Germany lost... In the autumn, I participated in the Hansewiesen (Oktoberfest) on the campus.

All the people at Bucerius Law School are very friendly and open-minded. The campus is small, so I often saw the same students and got to know a lot of people more easily. The research environment is, of course, good too. But the remarkable advantage of Bucerius Law School is that it is easier to get to know many people.

What was the biggest challenge in settling in Hamburg?

So far, I have visited Germany more than 10 times. But my research visit was my first opportunity to live in Germany (and even abroad) for a long time. A Hamburger’s mentality is said to be very open, and I am very comfortable with this. I made many good friends, not only on the campus, but also near my apartment.

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany. Therefore, there are many shops, restaurants and other attractions in the city center. The harbor is especially beautiful. Lower Saxony, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are all relatively close by and can be visited very affordably with a regional train ticket (Länder-Ticket). Hamburg Airport also has direct links to many European cities, and I travelled on cheap flights to various destinations.

My biggest challenge during my stay in Hamburg was learning to speak German well. Fortunately, there is a language school (Colón) near Bucerius Law School. Visiting scholars from Bucerius Law School get a 20% discount on its courses. But learning German is not easy, of course. I was in Hamburg for a year, but that is not enough time to learn to speak German properly. If it were possible, I would stay here for at least half a year longer…

I would like to thank all the people I met during my stay. Thanks to your help and kindness, I was able to live very comfortably in Hamburg. I have to go back to Japan for now, but I will definitely be back in Hamburg again. Vielen Dank!