MLZ site translator: Japanese Legislative Council

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Our next offering is a site translator for Legislative Council minutes at the Ministry of Justice in Japan. Discussion in public committees doesn’t tell the full story behind any legislation, of course, but these records are an indispensable source of information on legislative purpose, and do reveal some of the tension between interests in the preparatory phase of the legislative process in Japan’s parliamentary system.

There are two entry points to the archives from the top of this section of the MOJ site, as shown to the right. Online publication of these extra-parliamentary committee deliberations is a fairly recent phenomenon in Japan: the records of past committees go back only to May 1, 2001. Materials for both active and past committees are organised in a simple hierarchy. Navigation differs slightly between the two areas, but the translator works fine for both.

Pages that display a list of committee sessions will show a folder icon, as shown to the right. Clicking on the icon will bring up the usual selection list of items for download. The translator also works against the pages for individual sessions. Items added to the MLZ database by this translator have type Hearing.

Imperial dates extracted from the listed metadata are converted to their Gregorian (Western) form, and entries are supplemented with partial English metadata fields—finishing them out with the committee name etc. is left as an exercise for the user.

Recent committee minutes are offered in PDF format, and this is used as the item attachment where available. Older minutes offer records only as a self-extracting Windows archive or a compressed LZH archive: the translator will fetch the latter in this case. To open these attachments, you will need to have an LZH extraction utility installed on your computer. In a flash from the past, the LZH archive attachments contain a single file in Shift-JIS encoding (remember that?).

That’s it for Legislative Council minutes. Tune in next week to see where the quest for further Japanese legal content leads us next.

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