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Takashi Inomata

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How 80,000 Yen Can Change Your Life
—The Faculty of Law Correspondence Division

Takashi Inomata
Professor of Civil Procedure Law, Head of Correspondence Division, Faculty of Law, Chuo University

About the Correspondence Division

“80 thousand yen will change your life.” Have you heard this phrase before? It was used in 2013 in advertisements by the Correspondence Division of the Faculty of Law (hereinafter referred to as the “Correspondence Division” or “our Correspondence Division”). In March 2014, the catchphrase was used in posters hung in subway cars of Tokyo Metro, above the windows of train cars on the JR Chuo Line and Yamanote Line, and in door stickers of train cars on the Tobu Line.

In order to graduate, the system of correspondence education requires students to acquire a prescribed number of credits through schooling. At our Correspondence Division, schooling can be taken not only on the Tama Campus, but also in major cities throughout Japan and via the internet.

The basic annual tuition for our Correspondence Division is 80 thousand yen. Even after including the separate fees which are incurred to take the schooling courses required for graduation, the total cost is only about 500 thousand yen, assuming that students can graduate in the minimum period of 4 years. This is extremely reasonable considering the same level of legal education provided as the on-campus Law Faculty, by full-time professors from the Faculty of Law and the Chuo Law School, and that a Bachelor’s Degree in Law is conferred.

Of course, the Correspondence Division belongs to the Faculty of Law. Accordingly, as appropriate for the high-level legal education at Chuo University, systems have been established which make it possible to attend classes held by the Chuo University Judicial Professional Division, and to approve transfer to the Faculty of Law’s On-Campus Division after certain requirements are met. These systems exist to aid students in passing the National Bar Examination (preliminary examination) and various certification examinations, as well as to prepare for entrance examinations to the Chuo Law School and other academic graduate schools.

As of February 28, 2014, our Correspondence Division has attracted 4,234 students (regular curriculum) to enroll and study at our division. (Data in this article was taken from http://www.tsukyo.chuo-u.ac.jp/correspondence/data/new window (confirmed as of March 25, 2014)).

The History

The Igirisu Horitsu Gakko (British Law School), the predecessor of Chuo University, was founded in 1885. At the same time, in order to accommodate students who were not able to attend classes on campus due to living in remote regions or being employed, an off-campus system was established. Lecture notes were printed and distributed once per month. This correspondence education through the distribution of lecture notes became popular. As of 1887, the number of students increased rapidly to 631 students studying on campus and 1,107 students studying off campus. These numbers greatly exceeded original expectations. Afterwards, the number of students continued to increase (refer to page 111 of Chuo University’s Time Travel Chuo 125 (2010, Chuo University).

Inheriting this history and tradition, the Correspondence Division was opened in 1948 with the goal of spreading university education to society. At that time, the number of applicants reached 10,000 in only a 10-day period.

Regarding accreditation and classes for all specialized legal subjects, the Correspondence Division features involvement from full-time professors in the Faculty of Law. Together with the Faculty of Law’s On-Campus Division, the Correspondence Division has produced numerous competent professionals who are active in every area and on every level. In particular, as evidenced by Chuo University’s reputation of high-level legal education, Chuo graduates compose about 20% of Japan’s legal professionals. The Correspondence Division has provided such proven legal education in conjunction with the Faculty of Law’s On-Campus Division.

Expansion and Development

Of course, correspondence education is not without special challenges. In order to ensure that legal education at our school is broadly open to society, Chuo University has worked to eliminate any issues to the greatest possible extent. Our university has expanded correspondence education while searching for a form which meets the needs of the times.

As a premise to such efforts, let’s first look at the type of students that currently study in the Correspondence Division.

Generally speaking, the typical students in the Correspondence Division are in his or her 30s or 40s (students in their 30s account for 29% and 40s for 28%, composing more than half of all students). Students are normally employed in some profession (company worker: 36%, public servant/teacher: 13%, self-employed: 8%) and enrolled in the division in order to acquire a university degree (32%) or certification/knowledge for their profession (24%). Furthermore, the majority of students enter the Correspondence Division as 3rd-year students (470 students enrolled as 3rd-year students, as compared to 295 enrolling as 1st-year and 30 enrolling as 2nd-year). In other words, the students are working adults.

Of course, there are also students in their 20s (24%), 50s (11%) and 60s (6%). Some students also have different goals for enrolling, such as preparing for the National Bar Examination (16%), a desire to study law at Chuo University (10%), a desire to improve their education (9%) and an interest in lifelong learning (7%). However, these goals are not mutually exclusive; rather it is natural to assume that they overlap respectively.

Accordingly, we have formulated a public relations strategy which targets mainly adults who study while working, and have developed an environment which facilitates study by such students.

Innovation

First, we focused on how adults who study while working are forced to take time off from work in order to take the schooling courses. From 1985, in order to improve the convenience of schooling, we began an Off-Campus Schooling (currently Short-Term Schooling) in major cities throughout Japan, in addition to the Summer Schooling held at Tama Campus. Furthermore, in 2013, a Short-Term Schooling format was incorporated into the Summer Schooling held on the Tama Campus. We also increased the number of subjects for Short-Term Schooling held in downtown Tokyo. All of these efforts were made to expand the opportunities to take schooling.

From the perspective of meeting the needs of the times, in 1998, a year which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Correspondence Division, we started to develop a multimedia-type educational material which reflected the beginning of a new correspondence education in the 21st century.

One successful result of our efforts was the Real-Time Schooling which began in 2003. In this program, a video conference system is used to conduct live broadcasts of classes held on the Tama Campus to distant regions. This realized simultaneous and interactive classes which can be taken in each broadcast destination. Moreover, in 2005, we started an On-Demand Schooling. In this program, students can use computers to repeatedly view class contents during a certain period, thus enabling students to take classes with no restrictions on time or place. Both of these schooling programs were made possible by a high-level telecommunications environment.

Continuing to advance this line of thinking, we renovated our on-demand media class system in 2014, changing the name from Hakumon Broadband to C-WATCH. In addition to computers, classes can now be viewed or taken on smartphones and tablets. There is also support for a variety of operating systems and browsers. Even if students do not take classes as On-Demand Schooling, we expect that the ability to view the same contents (class video) as supplementary educational material will be extremely useful when writing reports and preparing/reviewing for schooling. This is another success in our efforts to expand the study environment.

Incidentally, students undergoing university education for the first time are often perplexed. Similarly, among students taking correspondence education or legal education for the first time, there is confusion regarding specialized legal terminology and ways of thinking. This is because all knowledge must be understood through writing (textbooks) and expressed through writing (reports, examination answers and graduate theses).

In order to alleviate such confusion and enable a smooth transition from learning until high school to learning at university, from 2011 we opened classes offering Introductory Education Subjects A/B as official schooling subjects in major cities throughout Japan. We expect to deepen understanding towards university education and to promote the acquirement of credits in specialized legal subjects through these subjects. Specific results associated with this program have started to appear gradually.

The Future and Vision

The rule of law reaches every corner of Japan. Acting on the desire to realize a free and fair society, Japan has resolved to conduct judicial reform upon entering the 21st century. As independent citizens living in the 21st century, we have the responsibility to correctly understand the meaning of such reform on a personal level. Law is one form of standards and rules of society. As such, adults who study while working should be able to understand the true meaning of such standards and rules.

Our Correspondence Division has a rich history and tradition. Based on them, I expect that the division will realize its founding philosophy by continuing to work towards the establishment of an open system which enables students interested in law to study at their time of choosing.

Takashi Inomata
Professor of Civil Procedure Law, Head of Correspondence Division, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Inomata, Professor and Head of Correspondence Division, was born in Aomori Prefecture in 1959. In 1983, he graduated from the Department of Law in the Chuo University Faculty of Law. In 1985, Inomata completed the Master’s Program in Civil Procedure Law in the Chuo University Graduate School of Law. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law (Chuo University). In 1989, Inomata completed the Doctoral Program in Civil Procedure Law in the Chuo University Graduate School of Law.
Inomata Served as a full-time instructor and Assistant Professor at the Open University of Japan before assuming his current position in 2010.
His main research theme is the form of procedural regulations for lawsuits, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution as an effective substitute for civil disputes.
His recent written works (all co-written) include Bridgebook Court Law (Vol. 2) (edited by Takeshi Kojima; Shinzansha Publisher, 2010), Introduction to Private Law—A Comprehensive Study (edited by Hiroto Miyake and Tsuneo Osawa; Nippon Hyoron Sha, 2012), and others.