Tower of Flame at Chuo Turns out Japanese Brains


 Asked to name the most difficult examination in Japan, what does come up in your mind? If you are an applicant to a university, you might mention the entrance exam given by the University of Tokyo, which is generally regarded as the most coveted seat of learning in Japan. As a matter of fact, the pass rate for the university’s exam was low at 34.0% in 2012 as 3,108 out of 9,150 applicants made it.


 However, there is a harder exam whose pass rate in the year was much lower at 25.1%, where only 2,102 out of 8,387 applicants emerged successful. It’s the National Bar Examination.


 Chuo University has founded an institution specifically aimed to help its students clear this toughest hurdle. It is conservatively named the Tama Student Research Building and is popularly known as “Honoo-no-Tou (the Tower of Flame)”.


Chuo University and Law


 Chuo University has been deeply associated with law since its inception over a century ago. It called itself “Igirisu Horitsu Gakko (English Law School) upon its founding in 1885. In those days, a law school in Japan was aimed to nurture students who aspired to become a bureaucrat or a lawyer upon graduation.


 Igirisu Horitsu Gakko, which was renamed Tokyo Hogakuin (Tokyo College of Law) in 1889 and was changed to the present Chuo University in 1905, was one of the country’s five law schools along with Senshu School (today’s Senshu University), Meiji Law School (Meiji University), Tokyo Law School (Hosei University) and Tokyo Vocational College (Waseda University).


To Become a Lawyer


 Now, what do students do to become a lawyer? Needless to say, they must acquire relevant professional knowledge and practical ability. Like many other countries, Japan had upheld its traditional bar examination to judge their competency. Applicants could proceed to legal profession if they passed the exam. This exam itself remains intact. However, a major change was made in 2004 when a law school system was put in place. Now all university graduates are required in principle to complete a law school course in order to get qualified to sit for the annual bar exam. The revised system has prompted all major universities including Chuo to set up their own law school.


Performance of Chuo Law School


 Now, let us look at the performance of Chuo Law School. The attached table shows the records of Japan’s top ten law schools in 2012 (the number of successful applicants is given in the left column and the pass rates in percentage in the right column. Asterisk denotes they are private law schools.)

Rank Law School

Successful Applicant

  Rank Law School

Acceptance Rate

1 Chuo* 202   1 Hitotsubashi 57.0
2 Tokyo 194   2 Kyoto 54.3
3 Keio* 186   3 Keio* 53.6
4 Waseda* 155   4 Tokyo 51.2
5 Kyoto 152   5 Kobe 45.8
6 Meiji* 82   6 Osaka 41.8
7 Hitotsubashi 77   7 Chuo* 41.3
8 Osaka 74   8 Tokyo Metropolitan 39.6
9 Kobe 60   9 Aichi* 37.8
10 Hokkaido 54   10 Hokkaido 33.9

 The table shows Chuo Law School ranked top in the number of successful applicants and 7th in the successful rate. It should be noted that many Chuo undergraduates go on to law schools ranked higher in the pass rate than Chuo Law School. Unarguably, the Tower of Flame makes great contributions to Chuo’s brilliant performances in the country’s legal community.


What does the Tower of Flame offer?


 The Tower of Flame is located in a deep-set corner, a long walk away from the front gate to the vast Tama campus. The facility for undergraduate students was built as one of projects to commemorate Chuo’s 125th anniversary in 2010.


 Its three floors above ground provide courses for students preparing for the national bar exam as well as courses for those hoping to become professional accountants and those preparing for the national public service exam. The inscription on the monument dedicated to the tower reads: “This building should be a place where students can come together, study to successfully meet the challenge of national examinations, and nurture within themselves an unwavering determination and a passion that burns like a flame.”


 One of the big merits the students can get from this facility is its legal profession seminars which are conducted in a small group. Lectures are given there by persons who have passed the bar exam, those who have been enrolled in or finished Chuo Law School and voluntary alumni who have been active as professional lawyers. They devote themselves to training the students to improve their ability. In addition, the facility has self-studying rooms where the students can reserve their seats. Another good point is that it provides a workplace with fewer interruptions because students who can attend the seminars and use the study rooms are limited to those who have passed the entrance exam given by the institution.


 Isn’t this an institution really characteristic of Chuo University which was founded as English Law School?



Written by: Aoki Daisuke