Prof. Dr. Akira Ishikawa

Japan

Legal scholar

DAAD Scholarship 1959–1961

 Prof. Dr. Akira Ishikawa Sonja Blaschke


It is probably no exaggeration to describe legal exchange between Japan and German as Akira Ishikawa's life mission. Born in Yokohama in 1931, he taught at Asahi University, having intensively examined and analysed German law right from the beginning of his studies. According to Ishikawa, this had primarily historical reasons. From the middle of the 19th century onwards, the Japanese legal system underwent a process of comprehensive modernisation. The Chinese legal system that had been in force was abandoned, and European and, in particular, German law was introduced in its place. The German philosophy of law found expression in the Japanese constitution, in commercial law, the law of civil procedure, criminal law and the law of criminal procedure. Other reforms followed after the Second World War, "but German law continues to provide the fundamental framework for Japanese law today," explained Ishikawa. As a result, many Japanese lawyers have studied in Germany.

I view Germany as my second home.
Akira Ishikawa

That is also why Ishikawa came to study in Germany with a DAAD Scholarship. "At the University of Munich I was able to attend lectures held personally by German professors who were extremely well-known as authors in Japan," said Ishikawa. "It was particularly the lectures given by Rudolf Pohle and Gottfried Baumgärtel, professors of civil law, that were of academic value to me." It soon became clear to the legal scholar that research and teaching in his subject interested him most. "In the field of law, I prefer theory to practice. When representing the interests of parties in court, it's often necessary to make claims that are incompatible with theory. That's not my thing," said Ishikawa.

He was convinced that researching German law would enable him to contribute to developing the legal system in his own country. Ishikawa always spoke of his German teachers with the greatest respect and maintained contacts with them long after he had become an acknowledged and multi-award-winning academic himself. During his career he received honorary doctorates from the University of Cologne and Saarland University and was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 2000 and the DAAD Medal of Honour in 2011. It was also particularly important to him to acquaint Germans more closely with the Japanese legal system, and from 1996 to 2004 he lectured at the University of Trier. He viewed Germany as his second home. Akira Ishikawa said: "I like Germany very much; it has strongly influenced me from both an academic and a cultural point of view, and I wish that cultural exchange between Japan and German continues to develop and improve in the future."

Akira Ishikawa died in June 2015.