Tobita & Partners provides high quality legal advice and assistance to Japanese, foreign and foreign-based corporations and individuals.


I would like to explain the regal rules concerning divorce in Japan.

First, in Japan, if a married couple agrees with their divorce and submits the official divorce registration papers to a public office, the divorce is valid. We call this kind of divorce a “mutual agreement divorce”. In this divorce, the reason for divorce is not important. Mere “incompatibility” is acceptable. Actually, we do not even need to write the reason for divorce in the official divorce registration papers.
About 70% of the all divorce cases in Japan are mutual agreement divorces.

If the couple cannot talk with each other about a divorce, the husband or wife who would like to divorce has to file a petition for divorce conciliation to the family court. 
In conciliation, basically two members of a mediation committee intervene between the husband and wife, which lets them talk about divorce smoothly. A conciliation date in the family court is held once a month.
Divorce conciliation is valid only when husband and wife agree to divorce.
Therefore, basically mutual agreement divorce and conciliation divorce are almost the same, except that the place of negotiation is family court and a mediation committee intervenes.

If a conciliation divorce is not valid, the husband or wife who would like to divorce must sue the other party for divorce. If the divorce is permitted in the sentence, the divorce is valid, even if the other party does not give consent to divorce.
However, the court can order divorce only when it recognizes the following items between a couple (Civil act 770Ⅰ).
1) if a spouse has committed an act of unchastity;
2) if abandoned by a spouse in bad faith;
3) if it is not clear whether a spouse is dead or alive not less than three years;
4) if a spouse is suffering from severe mental illness;
5) if there is any other grave cause making it difficult to continue the marriage.
In most cases, plaintiffs insist on 5) “any other grave cause making it difficult to continue the marriage”. Although mere “incompatibility” is not regarded as a “grave cause”, by adding the fact of separation or other items, they can argue it as a grave cause. 

All divorce court cases are not necessarily settled by the judge’s sentences. In the process of the court procedure, they are often settled by judicial settlement. About 30% of all divorce cases are settled by judicial settlement. It is made by the party’s agreement. So it is basically the same of the mutual agreement divorce and conciliation divorce.

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I am Hiroshi Tobita: a lawyer, and I manage the law office called "Tobita & Partners".

We specialize in the corporate legal work. The areas we practice are corporate law, labor law (employer side), intellectual property law, real estate and bankruptcy.

Our available languages are Japanese and English.
These days, the number of foreign clients is increasing.

Our strength is that we have a lot of expertise in Japanese court procedure. We can advise about any aspect of Japanese court procedure.

Please feel free to contact us for any inquiries.


Copying a map at a library

Today I'd like to tell about copyright.

In many libraries, it is prohibited to copy a map like a housing map more than a half of a two-page spread.
Many of you may think that we can copy anything in a library, but there are some restrictions on making a copy of works.

The reason why it is prohibited to copy a map more than a half of a two-page spread is as follows:
1. We can copy only a part of a work in a library in accordance with the Copyright Act.
2. "A part of a work" is interpreted as less than a half of the work in practice.
3. As for the housing map, a two-page spread is considered to be a single work.

Therefore, if you copy a housing map more than a half of a two-page spread, it would not "a part of a work" and it is prohibited by the Copyright Act.
Specifically, it is prescribed by law as follows:

(Reproduction in libraries, etc.)

Article 31 (1) In the following cases and as part of non-commercial undertakings at the National Diet Library or at a library or other facility specified by Cabinet Order whose purpose is to offer books, records, and other materials for the public to use (hereinafter referred to as a "library, etc." in this paragraph), it is permissible for a person to reproduce a work from a book, record, or other material of the library, etc. (hereinafter referred to in this Article as a "library material"):

(i) when providing a single user of the library, etc. with a single copy of a part of a work that has been made public (or the whole of a work that has been made public, if it is an individual work that has been printed in a periodical and a considerable period of time has elapsed since its publication) in response to the user's request and for the purpose of the user's research or studies.

In general, each page of a map book is linked to the other page and the entire book is regarded as one map.
Therefore, I think it is natural to regard one map book as one work.
Moreover, in reality, if the area which we want to copy is printed astride a two-page spread, it would be very inconvenient that we can copy only half of that.

This inflexibility might be a difficulty of Japanese Copyright Act.