Settling Labor Disputes in Japan

Labor disputes
labour problems japan
  • Termination
  • Non-payment of wages (especially overtime pay)
  • Harassment
  • etc.

When you face a labor issue in Japan, there are generally the following 5 options to take.

1) Mutual agreement (Negotiation)
2) Mediation service offered by a dispute coordinating committee of labor department (Assen)
3) Civil conciliation at the court (Minji-Choutei)
4) Labor tribunal proceedings at the court (Roudou-Shinpan)
5) Civil lawsuit (Minji-Soshou)


In order to settle a labor dispute, it usually starts with a negotiation. However, in many cases, it is difficult for workers to negotiate with their employers on an equal basis. So it is recommended to get consultation from labor department or an attorney.

Mediation at the labor department (Assen)

2 is the service provided by Labor Department. There are consultation desks at each Labor Standards Inspection Office (Roukisho) across the country, and they provide free consultation services designed to support the labor dispute settlement. If you want to settle the case without the support from an attorney, this will be a good option.

Civil Conciliation (Minji-Choutei)

Civil conciliation is the procedure at the court which helps to reach an agreement. However, the conciliation committee may not be an expert in labor issues, so attorney’s support is recommended.

Also, after the year 2006, labor tribunals (above written 4) began to operate in some of the courts, which is handled by the committee with knowledge of labor issues. So, in many labor disputes, it is recommended to use 4, rather than 3.

Labor Tribunal (Roudou-Shinpan)

Labor tribunal proceedings is a procedure at the court, which was designed to solve labor problems in a short period of time. This system started in 2006. However, it is still not available in many branches of the district court.

The labor tribunal committee is consisted of 1 judge and 2 labor relations referees.

Labor tribunal is designed to act as an intermediate procedure between the mediation and civil lawsuit. An agreement will be sought through the mediation, and if an agreement cannot be reached, then the tribunal committee will show their decision. The decision of the court will be made within 3 sessions (usually within 4 months after filing the petition).

If either of the party wishes to object to the decision, the statement of disagreement can be filed within 2 weeks in order to take a judicial action. Then the procedure will proceed to the civil lawsuit.

Civil Lawsuit/Litigation (Minji-Soshou)

Civil lawsuit is the last resort for dispute resolution. It generally requires longer time and cost compared to other options.

When you face a labor dispute, it is generally recommended to consult with an attorney (Bengoshi lawyer) to see what option you have. However, if the amount of the dispute is small and if you want to settle the case without using the attorney’s services, consider using the consultation services of a public agency such as the Labor Department.

If you need legal help about labor dispute, see an attorney (Bengoshi lawyer) for consultation. Attorney (Bengoshi) can support legal procedures about labor disputes in Japan.
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