Searching for a law

How to cite a law

When reading textbooks, you will invariably come across law citations. In most cases, the proper name of the law will be listed first, accompanied by an explanation, such as "hereinafter referred to as xx", stating that subsequent citations will use an abbreviated form.

Therefore if you photocopy part of a textbook you need to check that the section you are copying contains the full name of the law that you are interested in. Otherwise you may have difficulties in finding the actual text of that law.

First, we will look at how to read citations in actual form. In the following example, the name of the law is "Kokka Komuin Ho (National Civil Service Law)". Next, "Sho22-10-21" means "Showa 22 (1947) October 21", and refers to the date of "promulgation". "Promulgation" dates will be explained later. Finally, "Ho (Law) 120" means that the law was the "120th piece of legislation enacted in that year".

You must treat following dates with caution; The dates of "enactment", "promulgation" and "enforcement". The "enactment" date is the date on which the legal body having the power to enact, amend or abolish the law (for example the Diet) passed a resolution to enact it. A law (as opposed to an ordinance) this date would be passed. In the case a statutes this date would be the date of resolution by a session of Diet. "Promulgation" means making the contents known to the public after enactment. In the case of a law, this is accomplished by publication in the official gazette. The promulgation date is the day when this occurred. In most cases, laws are not yet effective at this stage. Therefore, they also have an "enforcement date", which refers to the day on which the law actually entered into force. The gap between promulgation and enforcement is to enable citizens who will be affected by the enactment, amendment or abolition of laws, to make sufficient preparations.

Nonetheless, laws requiring short familiarization periods, such as the internal regulations of government agencies may be promulgated and enforced at the same time.

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