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Japan's 1st legal office for foreigners opens in Tokyo

39 Comments

The Tokyo Public Law Office on Monday opened a branch office specifically to offer legal assistance for foreigners. It is the first such office to open in Japan.

The office, which is in Mita, Minato Ward, is staffed by six lawyers who can provide legal assistance in English, Chinese, Korean and Spanish, it said on its website. For other languages, the office will call on interpreting assistance from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Up until now, the "Foreigners and International Service Section of Tokyo Public Law Office" in Toshima Ward, which was established in November 2010, has been the sole legal consultation provider for foreigners living in Japan. Since its opening, officials said the office has handled more than 700 cases.

The office said demand for consultation is increasing over labor, visa and divorce issues, Sankei Shimbun reported, so the decision was made to open a new office in Minato Ward which has a large population of foreigners.

To contact the office, call 03-6809-6200.

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39 Comments
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Will assistance be at a foreign-friendly price?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Wow, well, join the 20th century. Now if there could just be a few bi-lingual nurses in the hospitals, life would be easier for ALL foreigners who usually understand English.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Will assistance be at a foreign-friendly price?

It could be the opposite. There could be an added bi-lingual fees, Language fees, translation fees etc.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is a good thing and I see many people being advantaged from this service cos a lot of Japanese law is very confusing. And, from some of the posts I've read on some other sites I think they are gonna be quite busy with COCO Juku employees.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Will assistance be at a foreign-friendly price?

From the external link at the bottom of the article;

Consultation 5,250 yen for a 30 minute session. The session can be extended for another 30 minutes (for additional 5,250 yen). Each consultation session will not exceed 60 minutes. In principle, we do not provide consultations over telephone or e-mails. Ask us if you have special needs for on-line or telephone consultations.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

About freaking time. Between the kidnapping of American children by Japanese citizens (they can't be dual citizen because of Japanese law) and labor law abuse by everyone from english language schools to government nursing programs, it was needed.

And cheaper than legal services in the USA to boot.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

i wonder why spanish and not portuguese, since there is a large brazilian population here? and a minato branch? to sesrve rich expats? come on! shinjuku would have been a better location to serve more people conveniently.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

There is a similar office in Yotsuya, across the street from Yotsuya station that provides the exact same service at the same fee, with translator available at no additional cost.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I do not want to sound greedy but I know so many gaijin husbands that are angry with their Japanese wives, no sex etc.want to get divorced etc..be nice if they would PAY us for recommending their law services, right??

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

wow like finally! real sad that japan opens one 'til now lol why are they stuck in the past~?!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is this a public service? Private company? More information and examples on things they cover would be good, like for example can I phone them to tell them my company is not paying overtime?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

-1 Good| Bad Elbuda MexicanoOct. 16, 2012 - 09:33AM JST

I do not want to sound greedy but I know so many gaijin husbands that are angry with their Japanese wives, no sex etc.want to get divorced etc..be nice if they would PAY us for recommending their law services, right??

Is this right? Gaijin husnbands angry with J wives? no sex? and so they will use this law office?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

How is that any different from an English speaking lawyer exactly

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Basroil,

I agree with the main sentiment of your comment, but you are incorrect about the dual citizenship of children. Children can have dual citizenship until they are 20 (or perhaps 22) years old, at which time they will have to choose.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

You see ads in magazines like Metropolis and such for similar services all the time... is this one considered a first because it caters exclusively to foreigners?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

AKBfanOct. 16, 2012 - 10:27AM JST Is this right? Gaijin husnbands angry with J wives? no sex? and so they will use this law office?

May be you have to show a copy of the contract which agreed on the number and the frequency of the sex in your married life. And if there is a violation from the J wife side then you can sue her....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I certainly hope my, currently non-existent, children in 20 something plus years time will not be forced to make unnecessary backwards step of choosing one part of their heritage over another. Things are changing lets hope this particular oddity of Japan eventually gives way to reason also.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

rickyveeOct. 16, 2012 - 09:27AM JST

i wonder why spanish and not portuguese, since there is a large brazilian population here? and a minato branch? to sesrve rich expats? come on! shinjuku would have been a better location to serve more people conveniently.

Tokyo/yokohama have more Spanish than Portuguese, Nagoya/Osaka have more from Brazil. Also, Kuwait, Italy, Hungary, Papua New Guinea and Australian Embassy are all located there (via Wiki). Minato in general is the embassy area, so there is NO better place for it.

SquidBertOct. 16, 2012 - 10:34AM JST

I agree with the main sentiment of your comment, but you are incorrect about the dual citizenship of children. Children can have dual citizenship until they are 20 (or perhaps 22) years old, at which time they will have to choose.

Yes, it's 22 (or if you had dual citizenship before 1985 it still holds). Issue is that Japanese citizenship becomes the automatic one, and due to the Koseki bull, children may not be able to claim foreign citizenship regardless of if they understand or not. That law needs to change for certain, make it like practically anywhere else, and allow Japanese citizens to also represent another country. Put restrictions like not china or north korea, but at least allow the americas and europe.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

himawariOct. 16, 2012 - 10:50AM JST

You see ads in magazines like Metropolis and such for similar services all the time... is this one considered a first because it caters exclusively to foreigners?

Sapporo's had a very similar place for ages, though it's limited times, but same cheap 30min/1 hour deal.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sound's great! Will it help? I guess we will find out as the future keep's truck'in on...Japanese wive's sound terrible to men, is that really true? Do women really use sex as a weapon or to manipulate men? So much that you need to sue them in court? Not for T-Maclk...too bad...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Best news of the week so far!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Don't judge all Japanese wives by a few comments here; plenty of foreigners with Japanese wives with perfectly normal relationships.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This is an example of the entrepreneurial backwardness in Japan. How long have foreigners lived here? How long has their been a market demand for this services? And NOW they're just starting to tap into that market?

But then again, maybe a group of attorneys had the idea twenty years ago, but it took twenty years of meetings to finally get it off the ground.

Unreal.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Harry

That's what i thought.. anyway, why would you go to lawyer if your wife wasn't putting out?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stay on topic please.

I think 'not putting out' is reason enough for retracting a spousal visa, is it not? So in all fairness....

No sorry, I can't make that argument work. :-)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Back on topic please.

This is an example of the entrepreneurial backwardness in Japan. How long have foreigners lived here? How long has their been a market demand for this services? And NOW they're just starting to tap into that market?

Well, its not like a Google search for "tokyo english speaking lawyer" would have returned no results prior to this office opening.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@baroil

accepted that possibly more spanish speakers in Kanto, but the location is still inconvenient for most foreigners who could benefit from the service (chinsese/korean).

@gaijinfo uh...no, there probably isn't a huge demand for these services. on a daily basis, most avg. gaijin have no need for lawyers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

rickyveeOct. 16, 2012 - 05:03PM JST

accepted that possibly more spanish speakers in Kanto, but the location is still inconvenient for most foreigners who could benefit from the service (chinsese/korean).

90% of the embassies are within 3 miles, no better place for it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I certainly hope my, currently non-existent, children in 20 something plus years time will not be forced to make unnecessary backwards step of choosing one part of their heritage over another. Things are changing lets hope this particular oddity of Japan eventually gives way to reason also.

At age 22, the Japanese dual national is required to file a declaration of choice of nationality (国籍選択宣言). It isa simple process and form, and assuming they make the sensible choice (Japanese, obviously) they will keep their Japanese nationality and foreign nationality, and that's the end of it.

If the dual national takes the voluntary step of renouncing Japanese nationality (a separate process), they will obviously lose their dual national status.

This subject is completely misunderstood by many Japanese, by foreigners living in Japan, and even by parents of Japanese dual-national children. Dual nationality is entirely possible and permissible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dual nationality is entirely possible and permissible.

Only so long as you don't require a Japanese passport. The application form asks if you hold the nationality of any other country. Tick the Yes box, no Japanese passport for you; tick No when it ain't so, and you lay yourself open to prosecution, loss of your Japanese nationality and who knows, maybe deportation. If you don't mind breaking the law, yes it's possible; but definitely not permissible under Japanese law.

http://www.seikatubunka.metro.tokyo.jp/issuance/index.html (Bottom right-hand corner, with the No box properly ticked)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only so long as you don't require a Japanese passport. The application form asks if you hold the nationality of any other country. Tick the Yes box, no Japanese passport for you; tick No when it ain't so, and you lay yourself open to prosecution, loss of your Japanese nationality and who knows, maybe deportation.

The form asks you to declare if you hold a foreign nationality.

Your list of consequences is based on speculation - not only is that clear from your post here, but from a previous comment you made: On the application form they ask if you hold the passport of any other country. I imagine if you answer 'yes' they say fine, no Japanese passport for you."

Tha'ts what you imagine, but this is the reality: you can easily find examples of dual nationals who renewed their Japanese passports, here's a sample comment:

"I'm 31 now and I just renewed my Japanese passport a few weeks ago at the consulate. The did ask me if I had another citizenship, and I said yes, so they told me to write it on my application form. I picked up a pamphlet there about dual citizenship that clearly stated that you have to choose once you're 22, but for some reason, they renewed mine no problem. To be honest, I'm not sure why.... "

http://www.halvsie.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5415 (comment no. 9)

(The obvious answer for this guy would be that he's a Japanese national and is therefore entitled to a Japanese passport).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The 'sample comment' you gave and the other comments on that page are dated early/mid 2008 - the Nationality Law was amended in December 2008, and the new passport application form came into use from 2009.

If the country of your other nationality makes it difficult/impossible for you to renounce that nationality, you're OK; but the law clearly states that you are obliged to attempt to renounce your non-Japanese nationality if you choose to retain your Japanese nationality; if you can renounce it and don't, you are deemed to have renounced your Japanese nationality.

http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S25/S25HO147.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All readers back on topic please.

wipeoutOct. 16, 2012 - 06:39PM JST

At age 22, the Japanese dual national is required to file a declaration of choice of nationality (国籍選択宣言). It isa simple process and form, and assuming they make the sensible choice (Japanese, obviously) they will keep their Japanese nationality and foreign nationality, and that's the end of it.

If the dual national takes the voluntary step of renouncing Japanese nationality (a separate process), they will obviously lose their dual national status.

This subject is completely misunderstood by many Japanese, by foreigners living in Japan, and even by parents of Japanese dual-national children. Dual nationality is entirely possible and permissible.

According to the US embassy and the Japanese government site on it, entirely wrong. At 20 years age your 2 year timer starts as it does for naturalized citizens. If by the end of the timer you have not chosen, congratulations, you are legally and (almost) irrevocably Japanese. It doesn't pertain to adults who were holders of dual citizenship since before 1985 (1986? forgot when it went into effect).

Regardless, this is a prime example of legal services that this place should be able to sort out. Until the Japanese government stops being so ridiculous with the "you're Japanese or you aren't" BS they love to tout.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

How many countries have this kind of service especially for foreigners? It certainly does not exist where I'm from. You're expected to learn the local language? Can't be bothered? Then go home you parasite.

Actually, International Centers don't exist where I'm from either, let alone in some of the smaller towns, and some of them have free legal services.

I can't understand why foreigners in Japan complain so much when they get treated better than most if the population. If rose petals were thrown in front of them wherever they walked, they'd whine about that too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I could say "It was about time" but let's just say it's fine that public office are ready to welcome also foreigners cases.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What reason do I have to visit japan except the good thing's I heard? Women, drinking, food, a new way of living all together. I may need to need to lawyer up if I met some of the wrong japanese people. I have only the highest of hope's. However if I need a lawyer it's good to know I have a resource to turn too....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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