We are a full-service law firm in Kyoto, a city that might sound familiar to many international residents and tourists, with a particular focus on practice of inheritance and business law in Japan. Our clients are not only located in Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe but all across Japan including Tokyo.
There are not many law firms which are capable of providing Japanese legal services in English and Chinese for international residents in Japan, as well as foreign investors and foreign affiliates having connections with the Japanese market.
With our considerable experience and network of law firms in foreign jurisdictions, we, as specialists in the practice of Japanese law, can provide legal services for you in the areas of inheritance (including making wills), purchasing and managing real estate, and business law of Japan in English and Chinese.
Please click About us for more details.
We, as qualified Japanese lawyers, provide the legal services of wills and inheritance,
purchasing and managing real estate, and business and commercial law as below.
Wills & Inheritance
Making a will
We provide all necessary legal services for you to make a will covering your assets located in Japan (bank deposits, real estate, shares etc).
There are mainly two ways of preparing a will under Japanese law. One is where you go to a notary office in Japan to make a will, which is called “will by a notarized document” (“kousei shosho yuigon” in Japanese). The other is where you write a will by yourself without going to a notary office or having it witnessed, which is called “will by a holograph document” (“jihitsu shosho yuigon” in Japanese). We can advise which method is better for your needs and circumstances, and assist you with making an appropriate will.
If you have assets located outside of Japan and have already made a will for those assets, you would need to take extra precautions so that such a will would not contradict or conflict with a Japanese will that you are going to make. We can review foreign wills (written in English or Chinese) and get in touch by email with foreign lawyers who you already retained in order to avoid such contradictions or conflicts as necessary.
Under Japanese law, if the nationality of the deceased is Japanese, the inheritance will be governed by Japanese law. Even if the nationality of the deceased is not Japanese, Japanese law might still apply to the inheritance if the laws of the country to which that deceased belongs stipulate to that effect. Furthermore, a beneficiary might have no choice but to follow procedures in Japanese even if Japanese law does not apply. For example, an organization that handles the inheritance procedures, such as a bank, might request those procedures to be carried out in Japanese because the organization is located in Japan. bank, might request those procedures to be carried out in Japanese because the organization is located in Japan.
With those potential scenarios in mind, we provide the following legal services.
Under Japanese law, if a person dies intestate, all eligible beneficiaries must discuss and divide the estate by agreement. We can provide legal assistance for your negotiations with other beneficiaries to reach such an agreement.
If beneficiaries fail to reach an agreement regarding division of the estate, generally each of them will need to submit an application of conciliation to the family court in Japan for division of the estate. If the need to take such legal procedures arises, we can continue to act on your behalf to handle the court application.
When you inherit real estate, you would need to contact the Legal Affairs Bureau and follow the complicated procedure to change the registered holder of ownership of the estate.
Similarly, if you inherit bank deposits, you would be required to deal with various paperwork in Japanese related to the relevant bank’s internal inheritance procedures.
It could be difficult for foreigners, especially those residing overseas, to go through these processes in a language that is not Japanese. Therefore, the inheritance procedures can get stagnated even if all beneficiaries have reached an agreement.
We can act on your behalf to deal with such inheritance processes, including changing the registered holder of ownership and cancellation of bank accounts as well as withdrawing deposits, as a result of inheritance, with the assistance of our associated external experts (judicial scriveners).
Under Japanese law, even if the deceased has multiple liabilities including debts, inheritance takes place automatically. Therefore, if a beneficiary (heir) does not wish to inherit, he or she must renounce the inheritance within three months of the time he or she has knowledge of the commencement of the inheritance. A beneficiary who intends to renounce inheritance must make a statement to that effect in the family court of Japan.
Such renunciation of inheritance is often made when the total value of an estate is in negative figures. However, a beneficiary can renounce inheritance even if the total value is positive. For example, if a beneficiary, who is an overseas resident, considers that inheritance of real estate in Japan is too burdensome for him or her to manage, that beneficiary might wish to renounce the inheritance.
We can act on your behalf to make a statement of such renunciation of inheritance in the court.
In Japan, each of the eligible beneficiaries who are not siblings of the deceased has the right to receive, as a legally reserved portion, a monetary amount in accordance with the ratio prescribed under the Japanese Civil Code. Such a reserved portion is compulsory, and a testator cannot freely dispose of the legally reserved portion.
If a person does not make a claim for his or her legally reserved portion within one year of the time of knowing (a) the commencement of inheritance and (b) the existence of a gift or testamentary gift, which reduces the amount of the legally reserved portion, that person’s right to make such a claim will be extinguished due to the limitation period. This time limit also applies if ten years have passed since the time of commencement of inheritance.
We can provide for you all necessary legal assistance including filing a claim for such a legally reserved portion on your behalf.
An inheritance tax system exists in Japan. If you are required to pay this tax, a report and payment of inheritance tax must be made within ten months of the day immediately after the day when the death of the deceased was notified.
We can introduce you to a tax accountant to assist you with your report and payment of inheritance tax.
Purchasing and managing real estate
If you are considering to purchase real estate in Japan but are having difficulties with communicating in Japanese, we can introduce suitable properties to you through associated real estate agents and also provide necessary legal services such as reviewing purchase agreements. We have strong connections with real estate agencies managing properties, particularly those situated in Kyoto, because of our law firm’s location. We can also provide legal assistance after the purchase of properties, such as reviewing lease agreements, to ensure that you can manage your properties appropriately.
Business & commercial practice
We provide the following legal services regarding business and commercial practices to corporations and enterprises of all sizes by utilizing our experience and knowledge in relation to Japanese corporate law.
We can assist you with the establishment of corporations under Japanese law with support from our associated external experts (judicial scriveners).
We can provide legal review of business contracts written in Japanese, such as business sales agreements, agency agreements, distribution agreements, services agreements, license agreements, software development agreements and joint research development agreements.
We can conduct research on complex Japanese laws and legal precedents and provide reports in English for you.
We can provide assistance in handling various legal issues your company might face while developing your business in Japan such as employment law issues, contractual issues and collection of debts.
We can provide legal assistance for your company to withdraw from the Japanese market, including dealing with procedures of liquidation.