Government Relaxes Policies Allowing Foreign Licensed Attorneys to Practice Law in Japan

In recent years, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of international arbitration cases in Japan in view of the vast growth of foreign companies in the country. However, due to the chronic labor shortage in Japan as a result of its aging population, low birth rate and a decline in inward migration, only a small fraction of these international arbitration cases are resolved.


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One of the biggest factors that led to the non resolution of these international arbitration cases is the scarcity of lawyers in Japan who possess the skills, expertise and knowledge that are necessary to handle the matter. In order to address these concerns, the government relaxed the rules and policies of Japan in relation to the practice of law of foreign licensed lawyers in the Land of the Rising Sun.


In the previous years, foreign licensed attorneys are allowed to engage in the private practice of their profession or render legal services for a fee in Japan only if it is established that they possess a certain level of professional experience and legal knowledge in their country of origin. In addition, it must be established by the foreign lawyer that his or her practice in Japan has been approved by the Justice Ministry of Japan and they have been registered with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.


However, their legal practice in Japan is merely limited to representing clients in international arbitration and providing legal advice pertaining to laws in their respective countries in which they are qualified. But they are not allowed to represent criminal case as well as suits that are anchored on Japanese laws. They were also prohibited from expressing legal opinions with regard to laws of foreign countries in which they do not have any license to engage in the practice of law.


Based on the new system, lawyers who have a foreign license may now pursue the practice of law in Japan in partnership with Japanese registered counterparts. Moreover, the government lowered the requirement for foreigners to practice as attorneys in Japan from three years to only one year of professional experience.


Reference: Japan aims to increase number of foreign-law attorneys


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