Japan Law

Japan Law

Although it has historical roots in the ancient Chinese and other legal systems, contemporary Japanese Law is a civil law (as opposed to common law) system similar to that of France or Germany.

The Six Codes of Japanese Law

The core of Japanese statutory law is composed of the so-called “Six Codes” (?? ropp?). The six codes consist of:

  1. the Civil Code (?? Minp?, 1896)
  2. the Code of Civil Procedure (????? Minji-sosh?-h?, 1996)
  3. the Penal Code (?? Keih?, 1907)
  4. the Commercial Code (?? Sh?h?, 1899)
  5. the Code of Criminal Procedure (????? Keiji-sosh?-h?, 1948)
  6. the Constitution of Japan (????? Nippon-koku-kenp?, 1946)

Family Law in Japan

Japan’s family law system has been the source of some international controversy. Under Japanese family law, joint child custody terminates together with the marriage. If the husband and wife cannot agree upon child custody as part of an amicable divorce resolution, it will fall the Japan’s family law courts (the ????? Katei Saibansho) to determine custody of the child. The Katei Saibansho are thought to show a strong preference to granting custody to the mother.


Japan law distinguishes between four types of divorce, each with varying repercussions:

  • Kyogi Rikon: Divorce by mutual agreement
  • Chotei Rikon: Amicable agreement cannot be reached, divorce through mediation in a family court
  • Shinpan Rikon: Amicable agreement cannot be reached, mediation fails, divorce through decision of the family court
  • Saiban Rikon: All options including family court fail, the case then moves to a district court for a decision.

Japan Law Resources

University of Hawaii Paper on Child Custody and Visitation in Japan
English translation of Japanese Civil Code

4 responses to “Japan Law”

  1. Penny Howell

    I am doing legal research on how Japan views proxy marriage between a Japanese citizen and a U.S. citizen. At the time of the proxy marriage the wife and mother of their child (born in Japan) was living in Japan and the father had lived with her for two years in Japan prior to his deployment to Afghanistan. After the proxy marriage, the father was killed while on duty in Afghanistan and they were never reunited. Would Japan recognize this marriage as valid?

  2. Tealeigh

    I am intrested in living in Japan when I am older than I am now. I have never been to Japan. I wish to know more on the subject of immergration to this fine country.

  3. cathy

    Yes, I think the marriage would be recognised in Japan if a) it was registered at the city office in Japan where the wife and child live, and b) the husband’s name was entered in her koseki family register. Plus, if one marriage partner lives in Japan, then the Japanese court has jurisdiction over their family matters.

  4. mark

    Hi I have a friend who was divorced by his husband without her knowing it, considering that they where no longer living together after months of their marriage in the philippines.She only came to know that she was divorced when she tried to renew her passport.Now she is back in the philippines and the philippine law requires that her divorced should be judicially recognized here.The process is to file a petition to recognize the Japanese Divorce decree.In filing the said petition we have to present to the court the divorce decree itself, however, my friend is having a hard time to secure the said Divorce decree considering that it was only her husband who filed the same and she even had no knowledge as to what kind of divorce was filed.So can you help us how we could secure the divorce decree itself?What government office in japan should she visit to secure a copy of either Kyogi Rikon, Chotei Rikon,Shinpan Rikon or Saiban Rikon, as the case may be?The Philippine court only gave us 3 monhths to submit the same or else they would dismiss the case and my friend, based on philippine law, remains married to the japanese.I hope you can find time to answer this querry.

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