Characteristic of Japanese Law

The origin of Japanese Law is that of Roman law and through time it has been modified to adapt to the Japanese culture. For instance civil law is divided into two categories: property/estate law and family-rights law, influenced by the French and German model, however, after WWII the United States had a major influence in restructuring commercial law. The current criminal law was adopted from the German version. Therefore, one can see the complex nature of Japanese law.

Although Estate/Property Law adheres to Roman Law revisions were made to suit Japanese society, especially in Real Estate Law contains distinctive features such as land and building structure are seen as two different entities. In present day Japan, land can be leased from a third party and a structure can be built, resulting in different ownership of land and building. Then the structure can be rented to another party by the building owner regardless of the land owner, complicating the details in the lease of both land and building. The land is leased for 20 to 30 years; however, the building is leased for as little as 2 to 3 years, thus, two different laws apply. Moreover, with the consent of the land owner, the building structure including land leasing rights can be turned over to a third party, which severs the lessee rights.


As of April 1, 2003, the American system of corporate law was introduced into Japanese commercial law consisting of officers. Up until then German corporate law system where the director and auditor were company executives was practiced, after April with all three positions a director, officer, and auditor, Japanese company structures no doubt became more complicated. This is because some companies choose to adopt the American (officer) system, and others choose to retain the German (director and auditor) system In the former system, if more than 50% of the member of committees (consisting of nomination, inspection, and remuneration) are outside , it is not necessary to appoint an auditor.

Kaneko Hirohito Law Office
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