Marie Wako joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) as the 2023-2024 APARC Predoctoral Fellow. She is a JSD (Ph.D. equivalent) candidate at Stanford Law School. She holds an LL.M. from Stanford Law School and a J.D. and LL.B. from the University of Tokyo. Her research interests include empirical analysis of human rights, law and gender, international trade law, and international public law.
Marie’s current research project focuses on the impact of female judges in Japanese criminal cases. Concerned about the persistently low gender equality in Japan, Marie seeks to understand how the presence of female judges can potentially challenge the male-dominated judiciary and influence sentencing outcomes.
The research utilizes a rare situation in Japan where criminal cases are randomly assigned to a group of judges, which enables us to study the pure causal impact of female judges on the judicial panel. The study conducts statistical analyses on a dataset of approximately 620 cases of criminal cases. Preliminary results indicate on average a statistically significant increase of 7.8 percentage points in sentencing severity for sexual offenses per one female judge, while no significant difference is observed for non-sexual offenses. Since the three judges in the panel must come to a unanimous conclusion in deciding the sentencing, this gap implies that, for better or for worse, these female judges are influencing the views of the male judges in the same judicial panel.
As an APARC pre-doctoral fellow, Marie aims to advancing her research by conducting further qualitative analysis and conducting a comprehensive content analysis of published judgments to delve deeper into the reasons behind heavier sentencing in sexual offenses when a female judge is involved. Her study seeks to contribute to the broader interdisciplinary conversation surrounding equitable representation of women in deliberative forums.
Before commencing her studies at Stanford, Marie gained practical experience as a qualified lawyer, aiding private companies and government agencies on various aspects of international trade law, including export control and economic sanctions, treaty negotiation, and international public law matters. In addition to her research on gender in the judiciary, Marie is concurrently developing a project examining the influence of labor provisions in trade agreements and their potential to improve working conditions in exporting industries across different countries.