Naoto Ōtani

Naoto Ōtani (大谷 直人, Ōtani Naoto, born June 23, 1952) is a Japanese lawyer and is the 19th and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Japan.

Naoto Ōtani
大谷 直人
19th Chief Justice of Japan
Assumed office
January 9, 2018
Appointed byEmperor Akihito
Preceded byItsurō Terada
Personal details
大谷直人 (Ōtani Naoto)

(1952-06-23) June 23, 1952
Akabira, Hokkaido, Japan
Alma materUniversity of Tokyo, Faculty of Law (1975)

Early life and education

Ōtani was born in Akabira, Hokkaido, Japan. He graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law in 1975, and became an Assistant Judge of the Tokyo District Court in 1977.

He became a Judge of the Tokyo District Court in 1994, a Professor at the Legal Training and Research Institute in 1995, and later served as a Judge of the Tokyo High Court in 2010. He became the Chief Judge of the Shizuoka District Court in 2011.[1]

Before becoming Chief Justice, Ōtani was the President of the Osaka High Court and was also one of the Justices of the Supreme Court. He previously served as the Director-General of the Criminal Affairs Bureau and the Personnel Affairs Bureau, and as the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court, and is known for his role in designing the lay judge system of Japan.[2][3]

Chief Justice

At age 65, Ōtani replaced Itsurō Terada as Chief Justice on January 9, 2018, when Terada reached the date of his retirement.

Ōtani as Chief Justice, was formally appointed by the Emperor after being nominated by the Cabinet; which in practice, is known to be under the recommendation of the former Chief Justice.[4]

He is set to retire in 2022 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.


  1. "裁判所|OTANI Naoto". (in Japanese). Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. "Architect of Japan's lay judge system to become chief justice at Supreme Court". The Japan Times Online. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. "New Supreme Court chief justice Otani determined to improve trust in judicial system". Mainichi Daily News. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  4. "Change at the top court's helm". Retrieved 15 December 2014.
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