125 Years Later: Harada and Naruse of 2013
by KENNETH BERKOWITZ
In the one hundred twenty-five years since Cornell Law welcomed its first incoming class, Japan has continued to send some of its brightest, most accomplished students to study in Ithaca, including two current members of the graduate program, Masayoshi Harada, LL.M. ’13, and Masashi Naruse, LL.M. ’13.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University, Harada practiced law for five years in Nagoya, Japan, where he specialized in torts, mergers and acquisitions, administered bankruptcies, immigration law, and land transactions. In 2010, when the opportunity arose to create new laws and ministerial ordinances in Cambodia, he moved to Phnom Penh as a legal advisor to the Ministry of Justice. Working for the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Harada spent the next two years helping to rebuild the legal community, which has been decimated by twenty years of civil war, and drafting laws on the civil code, civil procedure, commercial enterprise, and domestic violence and ministerial ordinances on land recording and matrimonial property.
Naruse completed his undergraduate education with an LL.B. from Hosei University. Immersed in the international atmosphere at Hosei, he completed many projects on contract disputes, trademark claims, and e-commerce disputes with students from Asian countries. Having found his career path in international relations, he cultivated his motivation in researching an ideal intergovernmental system for information exchange during conflicts. In 2011, eager to learn more, he enrolled at Waseda University to pursue his studies in international litigation and a global IP regime, and the following year, he decided to apply to Cornell.
As undergraduates interested in international law, both Harada and Naruse were familiar with the Law School’s reputation overseas. “For Japanese who want to work internationally, Cornell is definitely the first choice,” says Harada. “Studying law in the United States has become an important part of preparing for a career in international law and a necessary step in working for international organizations.”
“Cornell Law’s focus on East Asia and the fact that it has some of the world’s preeminent scholars in international law, such as Professor Kevin Clermont and Professor Annelise Riles, were compelling reasons to come to Ithaca,” adds Naruse. “And all the people I spoke with recommended Cornell as the ideal environment for learning.”
In the semester that’s followed, Harada and Naruse have worked alongside people from all around the globe, collaborated closely with faculty members to design their own courses of study, mixed with students from the J.D. and J.S.D. programs, and participated in interdisciplinary colloquia, events, and presentations. It’s a world away from their experience as undergraduates in Japan, with a different set of expectations about openness, diversity, and collegiality.
“What surprises me about Cornell Law is the closeness between professors and students, and the wide variety of projects being discussed,” says Naruse. “Participating in Meridian 180 and in last semester’s East Asian Law Colloquia has brought insights and inspiration about what can be accomplished in the region. Meeting so many highly motivated people and exchanging ideas inside and outside the legal field has been a stroke of great fortune.”
The pace of the master’s program and the cross-pollination of ideas among students and faculty have made their time fly by, and though neither Harada nor Naruse are related to their namesakes in Cornell Law’s first class, Harada clearly recognizes what they have in common with the original Harada and Naruse. He calls it “the frontier spirit,” a quality that makes them “different from other lawyers,” and which he sees as a necessary ingredient for anyone preparing to work in a new, untested, unexplored field.
At the halfway mark toward his master’s degree, Harada has set his sights on finding a position at an international organization—the World Bank and the United Nations are two of the first that come to mind—where he could continue the kind of work on judicial reform that he undertook in Cambodia. As his second semester of Cornell study concludes, he expects to spend the summer preparing for the New York State bar examination and then planning to start working internationally.
“In Cambodia, I saw a country struggling toward modernization as it tried to establish a free market and enter the global economy,” says Harada. “It seemed very similar to the transition that Japan experienced in creating its legal system one hundred years ago, when we made sure to stay true to our own culture and traditions while exploring the legal systems of Europe and the United States. At Cornell, in studying a mixture of common law and civil law, I hope to understand how to transfer those Japanese lessons to developing Asian countries, thereby contributing to the future development of law in Asia.”
His master program halfway through, Naruse has set his mind on seeking a position as an international lawyer, specializing in trade, IP, and international litigation. “The balance of the relationship of Japan and the United States is at a point of drastic transition” he says. “Cultural and social conflict between the two countries has been increasing enormously while free trade has sped up. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is one way to achieve harmonization, but social, historical, cultural, and legal structure are rooted in one’s country. A system that facilitates those considerations needs to be explored.”
While learning comparative law methodology, Naruse has seen problems in the way foreign lawyers understand another country’s law and society. “The dynamics of all stakeholders in one country’s legal system as well as their roles in the international regime need to be taken into account while seeking adequate compromise with foreign actors,” he says. “It is a complex task to explore how these factors should be incorporated and operated by a sophisticated wheel. I seek to grapple with this challenge in my remaining days at Cornell Law School.”