カテゴリ:TOPICS >   Other Laws

Our office is located in Ginza, which is known for being the most luxurious area of Japan. There are many popular department stores and brand outlets here. However, if you venture into the backstreets of Ginza, you will find some restaurants (mostly Chinese restaurants) that allow their guest to smoke, even during lunch time.

Also, not only in Ginza, but all over Japan, most Izakayas (Japanese-style bars) do not prohibit smoking. Actually, we often go to an Izakaya at night with our clients, colleagues or friends. As some Izakayas serve a lot of cheap food, some guests come there with their families (including their children) to have casual dinners. But most of the Izakayas allow guests to smoke. So when we go to an Izakaya, we need to be aware that we will be exposed to cigarette smoke.

Why is this terrible situation occurring in Japan?

This is because in Japan, there is no strict legal restriction regarding smoking in restaurants and bars.

It is true that Article 25 of the Health Promotion Law stipulates as follows.

Those who manage facilities such as schools, gymnasiums, hospitals, theaters, exhibition halls, meeting places, exhibition halls, department stores, offices, government agencies, eating and drinking places, and other facilities that are used by many people, must endeavor to take the necessary measures to prevent passive smoking (which means to be forced to smoke others' tobacco smoke in indoor or similar environments).

However, this article stipulates only an "obligation to endeavor to take the necessary measures" (not an "obligation to take the necessary measures"). Therefore, there is no penalty for those who do not take any measures to prevent passive smoking.

Now, the Japanese government is trying to ban smoking in facilities that a large number of people use in principle by revising this law, but even now since there are many people who want to smoke in restaurants and bars (especially men in their 40s and 50s; almost 40% of them are smokers). Since dissenting opinions are also strong, the ban cannot be easily established.

Yet, recent good news has emerged. On September 8, Governor Yuriko Koike of Tokyo announced that Tokyo is trying to establish a regulation that bans smoking in public facilities, including restaurants and bars in principle. This excepts only the restaurants and bars that meet all of following items:

(1) The area is less than 30 square meters.

(2) They do not use any employees, or all employees agree to work in smoky conditions.

(3) Children do not enter there.

(4) Posting that they allow smoking.

If this Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance is enacted, I will no longer have to go to an Izakaya or restaurant where I will have cigarette smoke blown into my face. I hope that this ordinance is established at once.

In Japan, is it legal or illegal to use AirBNB to let rooms out to travelers?

In fact it is illegal.

In Japan, there is a law called the Hotel Business Law. It defines Hotel Business as the business of repeatedly providing a place to sleep to guests and receiving an accommodation fee in return. If you offer Hotel Business, you need to get permission from the governor of your prefecture first. If you offer Hotel Business without having permission, you will be penalized with imprisonment with labour for up to 6 months or a fine of up to 30,000 yen.

However, as you know, the number of foreign tourists coming to Japan is continuing to increase. The Tokyo Olympic Games will be held in 2020, and a serious hotel shortage is expected. Furthermore, although AirBNB has recently become popular in Japan, and many people use it, most of them do not seem to have the correct permission to offer Hotel Business.

Therefore, the Japanese Government is implementing the following three deregulations.

1. Deregulation of Hotel Business law

According to the Hotel Business Law, a normal house is classified as a “Simple Lodge”, but to get permission to use the Simple Lodge, it needs to have a certain minimum floor area and an entrance hall. Because of this restriction, in the past it was difficult to obtain the permission, so now these restrictions have been relaxed.

2. Enforcement of the National Strategy Special Area Act

Within National Strategy Special Areas, if the National Strategy Special Conference permits the use of private houses for Hotel Business, then in those areas it is possible to offer Hotel business without permission. The only requirement is to receive certification from prefectural governors. However, so far, there are only three such special areas. Those areas are Ohta Ward in Tokyo, Osaka City in Osaka prefecture and Kita-Kyushu in Fukuoka prefecture. Because this law previously demanded that travelers had to stay for at least 7 days, it was not used much. Currently, the minimum number of days has been reduced from seven to three, but there are few foreign travelers who stay in one place for three days, so this law is still not used much.

3. Establishment of Housing Staying Business Act

This year, a new law was introduced in February, although it has not yet been enforced. By notifying the prefectural governor, we will be able to use our private houses to offer Hotel Business. However, there is a maximum limit of 180 days over the period of a year that we can use our houses to offer Hotel Business.

Anyway, I hope that the new law will be actively used and that travelers will be able to legally stay in a normal house, even in Japan.

If a debtor does not pay one million yen although he or she is obliged to pay it, the creditor will sue the debtor and get the decision from the judge that orders debtor to pay one million yen to the creditor.

When the debtor does not pay it voluntarily in spite of receiving the order, based on the decision, the creditor can appeal a compulsory execution to the court.

That is, the creditor can have the court attach the debtor’s properties, convert them into money, and use it for the payment of the creditor’s account receivable.

By the way, it is rare that the debtors who cannot pay anything own a real estate.
Therefore, even if the creditor has the right to attach the debtor’s property, in most cases, the creditor can only attach the money in the debtor’s bank account.

However, in Japan, the attachment system to the bank account does not work well.

Since if the creditor tries to appeal the attachment of the money in the debtor’s bank account, it is interpreted that the creditor needs to identify the debtor’s bank account as to what bank and what branch the debtor’s bank account belongs to (but not needed the number of the debtor’s bank account.) 

In Japan, there are a lot of banks and each banks have a lot of branches.

Usually, creditors do not know about which bank or which branch debtors have their account in.

Especially, if there are no continuous deals between the creditor and the debtor, for example if the creditor is the victim of a tort case, the creditor do not know the information about debtor’s bank account.

And even when the creditor knows the debtor’s bank account information, if debtor changes his bank, the debtor can easily escape the attachment.

From above, In Japan, the effectiveness of the civil judgment is extremely weak and it has been said that civil judgment is like “a Rice cake, which drew a picture” or “completely useless less that shit”.

However, according to the article of Asahi DIGITAL dated on August 5, 2016,

Ministry of Justice will try to implement the system that makes financial institutions disclose the information about the account that was owned by the person who owed obligation to pay and was judged to pay it in the court, in order to prevent the nonpayment of the compensation or the expense of bringing up a child. (translated by Hiroshi Tobita)


This is aimed at using compulsory execution easily in the court. In this autumn, Ministry of Justice will seek an opinion about the draft of revision of Civil Execution Act to Hosei Shingikai that is an advisory body of a minister of Justice, and try to submit it to the parliament in about 2018.

According to the article, the details of the Act  are as follows: 

Under the revision draft of the Act,creditors may request the court to investigate whether the debtor has his/her account in financial institutions in which the debtor supposed to have an account such as a bank around the debtor's address.
The court inquires it to the financial institution, and if there is a debtor's account, the court will order each headquarters of the financial institutions to disclose the branch name that has accounts to be attached, the kind of the account, the balance of the account, on so on.

Creditors do not need specify the name of financial institutions where debtor has his/her account. It is enough to get some idea of them.  (translated by Hiroshi Tobita)

This is a good news in Japanese judicial circle.


Recently, the number of the cases in the court has been inclined to decrease. I think this is because not only the populations of Japan is decreasing, but also there is a common recognition that the court in Japan is not useful. 

If civil judgement is not effective, Yakuza (Japanese mafia) will be rampant to debt correcting works as old time.

I hope this revise will make civil judgement of our country more effective and useful.

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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.

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The notification about commercial registration from the government has been published on the MOJ website(http://www.moj.go.jp/MINJI/minji06_00086.html). The notification said that you can establish a company in Japan and apply for registration even if all of the representative directors are non-residents.

In order to establish a company, at least one representative director had to be a resident of Japan and he/she had to have an address in Japan, so you had to first find a partner with a Japanese address and establish your company with them. However, from now on, that will become unnecessary.

This change is followed by making the registration rule stricter and non-residents are required to present certification issued by the authorities when they register their foreign address. However, if the company does something wrong and pulls its office out of Japan afterwards, it might be really difficult to file an action against that company and the representative directors. So, there is criticism to this change.

Nevertheless, this deregulation is necessary for attracting foreign investments. It might be impossible to make a system completely free from risks, so we have to do business with such a company in anticipation of such risks. I have high expectations for this change and I hope this will revitalize the economy in Japan.

Moreover, there is news that MOJ will change the rule of Visa (Ordinance for Enforcement of the Immigration Law) this April. So far, you can apply for the "Investor/Business Manager Visa" under the condition that your company has been established in Japan. Starting April, you will be able to apply for the four month Investor/Business Manager Visa if you can present some documents like "Articles of Incorporation" or "Business Plan" and receive a confirmation of Business Purpose. I have high expectations for this change too.

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