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Foreign lawyer picked to head Hyogo bar association

KOBE -- The Hyogo-ken Bar Association has chosen its first chairman of foreign nationality, who will take up his position in April, the association announced on Jan. 23.

    Set to head the association is Haku Shogo, a South Korean national. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations does not keep records on nationality, but says the appointment of a foreign national to such a post may be a first.

    Haku was chosen without a vote. His term will run for one year from April 1.

    Haku was born in Seoul, and came to Japan in 1974 due to his father's work. He graduated from the Faculty of Law and Letters at the University of the Ryukyus, and registered with the Osaka Bar Association in 1993. In 1996, he switched to the Hyogo-ken Bar Association, where he served in positions including vice chairman.

    Haku has a disability, having lost his right arm in a traffic accident before coming to Japan. In a message to Hyogo-ken Bar Association members when standing as a candidate, he mentioned the issue of human rights violations against non-Japanese, including hate speech, and said, "I will be happy if there is even a small advancement toward the problems being solved through me becoming chairman."

    There are no clauses on nationality for those taking the bar exam. Foreign nationals cannot become judges or prosecutors, who are public servants, but they can register as lawyers.

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