The Six Codes (六法 roppô) of Japan are:

  1. the Civil Code in five volumes (民法 Minpô, 1896)
  2. the Commercial Code (商法 Shôhô, 1899)
  3. the Criminal Code (刑法 Keihô, 1907)
  4. the Japanese Constitution (日本国憲法 Nippon-koku-kempô, 1946)
  5. the Criminal Procedure Code (刑事訴訟法 Keiji-soshô-hô, 1948)
  6. the Civil Procedure Code (民事訴訟法 Minji-soshô-hô, 1996)
The Civil and Criminal Codes were largely rewritten following World War II: only the Commercial Code and the first three volumes of the Civil Code still exist with mostly prewar legislation, evidenced by the fact that they use classical Japanese. There were also predecessors to the constitution (see Meiji Constitution) and the procedure codes, dating back to the late 1890's and early 1900's, which have since been discarded entirely and replaced.

In general, the codes were based on the laws of France and Germany, which in turn were based on the civil law of Rome. (eliserh adds that large portions were lifted directly from German sources such as the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch and Zivilprozeßordnung.) The older legal codes of Japan, such as the Taiho Code, didn't have much of an influence on the Meiji politicians, who were more concerned with Westernizing and modernizing their country.

The Six Codes are continually updated and published every year in a set of statute books called the Roppô Zensho (六法全書), which also include the gamut of individual laws passed by the Diet. The codes are also available online at several web sites, including http://www.ron.gr.jp/law/.

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