Prof. Dr. Makoto Ida
Legal scholar, Professor at Keio University
DAAD Doctoral Scholarship 1980–1982
"In Japan, showing an interest in criminal law always meant having an interest in German criminal law," recalls the lawyer Makoto Ida, remembering his time as a student. This comes from the strong influence that the German law system exercised on Japanese law during the modernisation of the Asian country towards the end of the 19th century.
Whenever it is said I have done a good job, the reason can be found in my years of study in Germany.
Born in Tokyo in 1956, Makoto Ida studied at the university at which he still works today as a professor of criminal and medical law, namely at Keio University in Tokyo. However, he also completed part of his education and training in Germany. His academic teacher, Koichi Miyazawa, a well-known criminologist, has always been fascinated by German law and by the country itself. "Each and every day, he would tell me how great and brilliant German studies in criminal law were," recounts Makoto Ida, who, as a pupil and student, had read numerous works by German philosophers in Japanese translation. "All this had contributed to him becoming a lawyer, fascinated by Germany."
After having received the Magister in Law degree at Keio University, Ida received a two-year DAAD Scholarship for the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in October 1980. Whilst there, he preoccupied himself with the problem of sentencing decisions. "The topic had not been as theoretically engrossed in Japan as it had in Germany," says Makoto Ida. He wanted to write his doctoral thesis in this field. However, before his time as a scholarship holder began, he was drawn to his home country in 1982, because the Keio University had offered him a very good position. However, Ida nevertheless had his thesis translated into Japanese and published it. At the time, he had no idea whatsoever that the essay was later to be regarded as a pioneering work.
In Japan, Makoto Ida is meanwhile regarded by colleagues as the country’s outstanding criminal lawyer. Many of his theoretical studies count among the standard works in Japanese law. He also likes to contribute to topical political discussions on subjects like environmental protection law and commercial criminal law. As an advocate of the rule of law, he sees German criminal proceedings as more humane and therefore more advanced than in Japan. "But for my perception, Japanese legal proceedings are more efficient, precise and correct," he says. He believes you can argue about which system is best. His active exchange with Germany has brought him honorary doctorates from Saarland University and Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. In addition to other awards, he received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2015 for his work and his efforts to develop fresh academic talent in Germany and Japan.
Makoto Isa only talks about himself with the greatest of modesty: "I was always an average student at school and university, and believe that I am disproportionately esteemed. Whenever it is said I have done a good job, the reason can be found in my years of study in Germany."