Global Programs Blog


Cody Gee, JD ‘21
Legal and Internal Audit Department
Kobelco Construction Machinery, Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, Japan


After a busy work week, my colleagues had planned a trip for me to visit the Yokohama District Court. Yokohama is another city in Japan located around one hour south of Tokyo.

For reference, Japan’s district courts act somewhat similar to state and federal district courts in the United States. They have original jurisdiction over certain civil and criminal cases, and there are 50 district courts in Japan, at least one for each prefecture.

Japanese CourthouseOn arrival to Nihon-odori station near Yokohama station, we were joined by members of Kobe Steel’s legal group and made our way to the court house. On the outside, nothing looks relatively different to that of a Texas district court; however, on the inside of the courthouse, there are substantial differences.

One thing I noticed instantly was that the saiban-in, Japan’s relatively new jury, actually sits on the bench level with the judges. There is no jury box, and the saiban-in deliberates with the judge to decide the sentencing.

During our visit, we attended a murder trial, where both sides were debating on whether or not the defendant had the mental capacity to receive the maximum number of years in prison. The whole process was quite interesting; however, I could not understand most of what was being said as I am not fluent in Japanese.

Japanese MuseumAfter visiting the Yokohama district court, our colleagues brought us to see the Yokohama Customs Museum. Yokohama is historically famous for being the first port that allowed foreign trade after the U.S. demanded Japan to open its ports for trade in 1859. Since then,

Yokohama has constantly monitored the country’s trade, and the museum walks you through its regulations on what it allows in the country. The museum even shows real quantities of drugs they have seized in previous operations.

I loved learning about the history and development of Japan’s international trade customs, and I was glad my colleagues had brought me to see the museum. Afterwards, we finished the tour by enjoying a meal at a katsu (fried pork) restaurant and made our way back to Tokyo.

Cody Gee in Japan
Cody Gee in Japan
Cody Gee in Japan
Japanese Museum