Japanese courts are suspending the court dates to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Japanese courts are now suspending many court dates in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

They started suspending the court dates after the Japanese government has declared the state of emergency on 7th April 2020. And now, following the extension of the declaration until the end of May 2020, the court dates scheduled in May are being suspended in many courts throughout Japan.

As there are many new potential cases which weren’t filed because of the voluntarily “stay home” in April, the court will likely to be very much over-scheduled after they re-open the suspended court dates after the end of May.

There are several different procedures at the court. Two major procedures are lawsuit (“Sosho”) and conciliation (“Cho-tei”). Japanese legal system requires conciliation procedure to be held before the lawsuit for several types of cases. This includes many family procedures such as divorce. Which means, if you want to file a divorce case to a Japanese court, you will first have to file for a conciliation procedure. You cannot go to lawsuit directly.

As the conciliation procedure includes more “close, detailed and long conversations” in a small room compared to lawsuits, there may be considerable delays for conciliation procedures for a long period of time (maybe more than several months).

For people who have serious and urgent legal issues at this moment, it will be important to move quicker than usual, taking into account the possibility of significant delays at the court.

Published by

Kei Sumikawa

Attorney at Law (Sumikawa Law Office), Kawasaki city, Japan