Earning a Law Degree in Japan
In 2004, Japan implemented a new law school system based more on formal schooling than just comprehensive and difficult annual examinations. Until a few years ago, the Japanese bar exam had a passing rate of just three percent; most students had to take the exam several times before successfully attaining the required grade. In fact, the bar exam was so notoriously rigorous that many so-called "cram schools" emerged in Japan that specialized in assisting prospective lawyers who were planning to take the bar exam.
The Japanese Government also passed a law in 2004 permitting the development of graduate level law schools offering Juris Doctor degrees. Earning a law degree in Japan now takes between five and seven years. Since 2006, Japanese bar examinations require students possess a law school degree before taking the exam. In addition, since revising the old bar exam, passage rates have risen to nearly 50 percent. However, students cannot take the exam more than three times in five years.
Semester tuition fees for earning a law degree in Japan are higher than those in the U.S. and Europe. Average fees charged by a Japanese university is around 600,000 yen (4500 Euros, $6000 USD). International students electing to earn a law degree in Japan should expect to pay $60,000 USD (45,000 Euros) just in school expenses (admission, "equipment" and facility fees). Moreover, living expenses are also higher in Japan than other Western countries, especially in Tokyo and other major cities. Scholarships are available from universities but competition is stiff and only the top students qualify for help with tuition.