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Legislative Explosion and Open Government

Proposal for “Open Coding” in Legal Documents

March 2015

Senior Fellow, Toshihiro Enami


In order to solve various issues and effectively make use of IT and new technologies in today’s society, it is necessary to rapidly reform old social systems, in particular the legal system, into new systems that are fit for the technologies of today. In other words, to avoid changes in social structure adversely impacting people’s lifestyles and to bolster its international competitiveness in IT and other new technologies, Japan must create a social platform that allows the legal process to proceed quickly and efficiently. The hypothesis of this study is that IT will be greatly able to contribute to the crafting of a social platform that supports efficient legislation, which will in turn benefit future generations as they are faced with social shifts and technological innovation. The study explores the ideal relationships between law and IT based on that hypothesis.

Quantitative analysis of Japan’s legislative environment shows that a phenomenon known as “legislative explosion”(*1), in which a large number of new laws are signed or old ones amended, has been recurring in recent years. Legislative errors and other social issues have arisen as a result. Looking at the relationship between the law and IT, not only has technology not kept up with legislative reform, but efforts to address the issue of legislative explosion using IT and legal engineering has run headlong into a wall due to legal constraints and the cul-de-sac thinking of engineers.

To address these issues, I have examined legislative explosion from the perspective of Open Government, the global mainstream in e-government, and considered different solutions thereto. The results support Open Coding, a social foundation which allows many people and machines to be involved in and spur forward legislation under the basic concepts of transparency, participation, and cooperation.

Below are the principles of Open Coding. The results of this study show that applying the conventions of Open Coding to the My Number Act holds many possibilities.

1) Legal documents shall have original copies made into electronic files and be made available via the Internet on a legal database. The electronic files will be considered original copies of the law.

2) Legal documents will have their versions managed such that all past and current versions of the law are accessible at all times. Records will be kept by the western calendar rather than the Japanese calendar.

3) Legal documents will be written with text running horizontally, and formal language and katakana in the Chinese classical style will be rewritten in hiragana and common vernacular and in a clear and simple manner.

4) The format of legal documents shall be in accordance with Open Coding conventions.

5) The formulation and amendment of legal documents shall be done in such a way that citizens are able to participate in collaborative legislation.


(*1) Term used in Uno (2014). Some legislation experts use other terms, such as “legislation inflation” and “flood of legislation”.

More Information

  • The full text is unavailable in English for this report.
    The original Japanese text is here [2155 KB].