COVID-19 Countermeasures at our Office

Update | January 14, 2021

In some parts of Japan (including Tokyo and Kanagawa), the state of emergency declaration (due to COVID-19) is declared until February 7th, 2021. In order to ensure the safety of our guests and staffs, we are taking the following measures.

  • We request all guests and staffs to wash their hands when entering the office.
  • Hand sanitizer at the entrance and the meeting room.
  • Acrylic boards in the meeting room to prevent infection.
  • Disinfection of the meeting room for each consultation.
  • We request all guests and staffs to wear a mask.
  • We open the window for ventilation.
  • We have humidifiers installed to keep the humidity in the room.

For legal issues such as debt, business problems, inheritance, divorce, etc. it is important to have a consultation with the attorney early on in order to achieve a better resolution.

We take measures to prevent infection as described above, so if you wish to consult with us, please contact us as soon as possible. We can also provide web consultation (zoom, skype, google meets) for now.

Japanese Court System

1 District Court, Family Court

Civil cases and criminal cases are generally first heard by the district courts (Chiho Saibansho). There are district courts in each prefecture. There are also several branches of the district courts in each prefecture.

Family cases, such as inheritance and divorce, are heard by the family courts (Katei Saibansho). In many family cases, it is required to go through the family conciliation process first.

Summary Court

Civil trials where the amount of the case is 1.4 million yen or less are heard in the summary courts (Kan-i Saibansho).
In addition to civil trials, small claims court and demand for payment are also available at the summary courts.
In addition, most of the civil mediation cases are conducted in the Summary Court.

Some of the minor criminal cases are also heard at the summary courts.

2 High Court

If there is an appeal against the judgment of the district court or family court, the case will be heard by the high court (Koutou Saibansho). There are eight high courts in Japan (Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Fukuoka).

3 Supreme Court

If there is any dissatisfaction with the judgment of the high court, the case can be appealed to the Supreme Court (Saikou Saibansho). However, as a general rule, this is limited to cases of constitutional or procedural violations.

2020-2021 Year-end and New Year Vacations

Our year-end and New Year holidays are as follows

Open until Monday, December 28, 2020

New Year Vacations
December 29, 2020 to January 4, 2021

Open from Tuesday, January 5, 2021

In the Japanese zodiac, 2021 will be the year of the Ox.
We wish you a Happy New Year.

Sumikawa Law Office

Qualified Acceptance of the Inheritance (Japanese Civil Code Article 922)

Article 922 An heir may accept inheritance reserving to perform the obligation or testamentary gift of the decedent only within the extent of the property obtained by inheritance.

Japanese Civil Code Article 922 is about the Qualified Acceptance of the Inheritance. (Gentei-Shounin in Japanese)

With Qualified Acceptance, the heirs inherit the burden of the decedent’s debts only to the extent of the assets gained by the inheritance. In other words, if the debt is paid off and the assets remain, the heirs can get what is left. Conversely, if the assets are not enough to pay the debt in full, the heirs only have to pay what is gained by the inheritance.

This system looks like a very good and fair way to go, if you only look at the wording of the law. However, this procedure is rarely used. Only several hundred cases are filed each year throughout Japan, where almost 1.4 million people die.

The reason for this is that the procedure is often very cumbersome and expensive.

Filing this procedure requires the petitioner (the heir) to make a detailed investigation of the decedent’s assets and provide a detailed report to the court. It is also necessary to take the time to make distributions to creditors. In addition, the tax process can be quite complicated. These result in a significant amount of time and extremely high costs. Even after spending a lot of time and money, the heirs may not receive anything at all.

Therefore, there are very few situations in which this system is available.