Japanese Waiting Period for Remarriage

Many will be surprised to learn that Japan imposes a waiting period on women seeking to remarry. As a general rule, a woman must wait 100 days from the effective date of her divorce before remarrying. This waiting period is meant to make it easier to identify the father in the event a woman has a child soon after divorce, but there are a few exceptions.

A woman may remarry immediately:

– if she can prove, through a note by her doctor or otherwise, that she was not pregnant on the effective date of her divorce;

– after she gives birth to a child during the waiting period; or

– if she is remarrying her former spouse.

This waiting period can lead to visa problems for divorced women seeking to remarry in Japan close to their visa expiration date. Please contact us at Jackson Sogo to discuss how we can help you through this process.

* Jackson Sogo (www.jacksonsogo.com) is a Japanese gyoseishoshi law office offering a wide range of Japanese corporate, immigration, employment, labor, and family law services to clients in native English. This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright Jackson Sogo. All rights reserved.

Protecting yourself from fraudulent or unconsented to divorce filings in Japan

Unlike most countries, divorce in Japan is easy for a married couple whose marriage is registered in Japan. If the divorce is not contested, the couple can simply fill out and sign a notice of divorce (rikon todoke), have two witnesses also sign the notice, and file the notice with their local city or ward office. No court proceedings are required, and the couple can even decide which spouse will get custody of any children in the notice. 

Unfortunately, the ease of filing for divorce also means that the system can be easily abused. A notice of divorce can be filed by either spouse, making it easy for a disgruntled spouse to forge signatures and file a fraudulent notice without the other spouse’s knowledge. A disgruntled spouse may also file a notice of divorce that was previously signed by the other spouse after the other spouse changes his or her mind and no longer consents to the filing. Once a notice is filed, the divorce is considered final and the only recourse is to seek an invalidation of the divorce (kyougi rikon no mukou soshou) from the family court, a process that can involve significant time and expense.

For this reason, we recommend that clients who suspect that a notice of divorce may be filed by their spouse without their knowledge or consent preemptively file an application to prevent the filing of a notice of divorce (rikon tokode fujuri moushide). The application can be submitted to your local city or ward office and effectively prevents either spouse from filing a notice of divorce. The consent of your spouse is not required. Once the application is filed, the filing spouse must personally revoke the application for either spouse to file a notice of divorce.

This application is an iron-clad defense against fraudulent and unconsented to divorce filings in Japan, but there are a number of other recommendations we generally make to clients nearing a potential divorce. First, we recommend that you consult Jackson Sogo or another appropriate advisor to discuss your options and strategies for achieving the best result in your particular situation. Once a notice of divorce is filed, the divorce is final and you will lose any bargaining power you may have had before filing. Often times, it is best to condition the filing of a notice of divorce on the execution of a divorce agreement setting forth, among other things, how assets will be divided in the divorce. These agreements are typically much more difficult to secure after a notice of divorce has been filed, so we strongly recommend that you hold off on filing a notice of divorce until you have consulted with a specialist such as Jackson Sogo and arrived at a strategy for moving forward.

Second, we recommend that clients who ultimately decide to file a notice of divorce avoid signing the notice in advance and personally travel to their local city or ward office to sign and file the notice with their spouse. Many people make the mistake of signing a notice of divorce in advance only to find that the notice is then hijacked by their spouse and used to gain leverage in the marriage or as a bargaining chip to obtain better terms of divorce. This situation can be remedied with the filing of the application to prevent the filing of a notice of divorce discussed above, but it is better to avoid this situation entirely, whenever possible.

Please contact us at Jackson Sogo if you have any questions about divorce in Japan.

* Jackson Sogo (www.jacksonsogo.com) is a Japanese gyoseishoshi law office offering a wide range of Japanese corporate, immigration, employment, labor, and family law services to clients in native English. This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright Jackson Sogo. All rights reserved.

Jackson Sogo (Japanese Gyoseishoshi Law Office) – Office Announcement

Jeffrey (“Jeff”) Jackson, the founder of Jackson Sogo, will be appearing in a panel discussion on “Starting a Business in Japan” to be held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) on November 7th beginning from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Nagoya Innovator’s Garage in Nagoya, Japan. The panel will be discussing various matters of interest to start-ups, including tips on structuring, getting work and family visas, start-up financing, securing appropriate office space, and more. Please see the below link for more information, and join us if you can.

https://nagmag.jp/starting-a-business-in-japan-november-7-2019/?fbclid=IwAR3NKdIvXhUvyFIrGDd6ot0otcQQExP5ZrpQS2RyquNi8zjXbMrMiFj8SXc

Workforce Reductions in Japan

Jackson Sogo (Japanese Gyoseishoshi Law Office) – Client Alert

Workforce Reductions in Japan

The labor laws in Japan make it extremely difficult to terminate employees, and many laid-off employees are able to successfully argue wrongful termination. When they prevail on such a claim, they are entitled to backpay as well as reinstatement in their previous position. This can be costly for companies and engender mistrust among other employees, who fear they may be the target of future layoffs.

In almost all cases, it is better for a company to try to reach an amicable arrangement for separation rather than unilaterally fire an employee. If your company is considering a workforce reduction, please contact us for information about how we can help guide you through the process.

* Jackson Sogo (www.jacksonsogo.com) is a Japanese gyoseishoshi law office offering a wide range of Japanese corporate, immigration, employment, labor, and family law services to clients in native English. This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright Jackson Sogo. All rights reserved.

Jackson Sogo (Japanese Gyoseishoshi Law Office) – Office Announcement

We are pleased to announce that Jackson Sogo is now a commercial member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). We look forward to working with other members to support the foreign and local communities in Japan going forward.

* Jackson Sogo (www.jacksonsogo.com) is a Japanese gyoseishoshi law office offering a wide range of Japanese corporate, immigration, employment, labor, and family law services to clients in native English.

Major amendment to Japanese rules for dependent family member health care coverage and spousal pension eligibility

Jackson Sogo (Japanese Gyoseishoshi Law Office) – Client Alert

Area: Family Law

The Japanese Health Insurance Law, which has until now allowed dependent family members outside of Japan to receive health insurance benefits, has been amended to limit benefits to those dependents residing in Japan. Spouses wishing to draw pension as a “Category 3 Insured Person” will also have to reside in Japan to be eligible to receive pension.

The amendment takes effect in April 2020 and is meant to curb potential abuse of the health care and pension systems by the growing number of foreigners in Japan, although the changes apply to foreigners and Japanese alike. Certain exceptions are made for students studying abroad and accompanying family members living abroad on a temporary overseas assignment.

Japanese residents with dependent family members residing outside of Japan will want to carefully consider how these changes may impact them and plan accordingly.

* Jackson Sogo (www.jacksonsogo.com) is a Japanese gyoseishoshi law office offering a wide range of Japanese corporate, immigration and family law services to clients in native English. The information provided within this client alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright Jackson Sogo. All rights reserved.

Warning regarding fraudulent brokers and consultants

Jackson Sogo (Japanese Gyoseishoshi Law Office) – Client Alert

There has recently been an uptick in brokers and consultants purporting to provide Japanese legal advice and support to foreigners and foreign businesses, particularly in the areas of immigration and corporate law. Many of these “advisors” are not licensed to provide these services and are not bound by a duty of confidentiality.

Only locally-qualified legal professionals can practice Japanese law, so please be cautious when seeking assistance on Japanese law issues from companies and individuals advertising these services.

Understanding what Japanese LLCs and Japanese LLPs are and aren’t

In 2006, the Japanese Commercial Code underwent the most significant set of changes since its inception. Up until that point, the basic corporate forms available to businesses in Japan were the (i) corporation (kabushiki kaisha, or “KK”), (ii) limited liability company (yugen kaisha, or “YK”), (iii) limited partnership company (goshi kaisha) and the (iv) general partnership company (gomei kaisha). The 2006 amendments, which codified the “Japanese Companies Act” to deal specifically with company formation, organizational, management and administrative issues, essentially folded the existing limited liability company (YK) into the corporation (KK) and established a new limited liability company (the godo kaisha, or “GK”) in its place, while a related law that went into effect just before those amendments in 2005 introduced a new limited liability partnership (yugen sekinin jigyo kumiai) to the non-corporate forms already available under Japanese law.

The GK was based loosely on the limited liability company under U.S. law and was heralded, and continues to be referred to, as the “Japanese LLC”. From the beginning, it was meant to offer the most significant features of its American counterpart – namely, (i) limited liability (limited to the amount of the member’s investment) and (ii) pass-through tax treatment for members. The intent was to bring Japanese company law more in line with popular modern-day corporate forms and open up additional options for structuring and investment in Japan.

Unfortunately, this proposal was met with serious resistance, in particular with respect to the proposed tax status for the new Japanese LLC. Historically in Japan, entities that enjoy a separate legal existence have always been subject to a corporate tax at the corporate level, and the support for the Japanese LLC was not strong enough to overcome the presumption that pass-through tax treatment should only be available for non-corporate associations / partnerships. The result is that Japanese LLCs do not benefit from pass-through tax treatment under Japanese law as the LLC name would suggest.* This is a major source of misunderstanding for foreign investors, who assume, as one would expect, that a Japanese LLC would naturally possess the salient features of its similarly-named American counterpart.

The compromise for the somewhat handicapped Japanese LLC was the introduction of a limited liability partnership (the yugen sekinin jigyo kumiai, or simply, the “Japanese LLP”). The Japanese LLP provides limited liability (limited to the amount of the member’s investment) and pass-through tax treatment for members but, importantly, is not recognized as a corporate form. In other words, unlike its American counterpart, it is not treated as a distinct entity with a separate legal existence and therefore cannot be a party to agreements, cannot acquire rights or be subject to liabilities in its own name, and cannot, except in certain circumstances, be a named plaintiff or defendant in lawsuits.** At its core, it is treated as an association – a group of individuals acting together for a common purpose. Here again, the naming is a major source of misunderstanding for foreign investors, who understandably assume that the characteristics of the Japanese LLP would generally map to those of its similarly-named American counterpart.

Anyone considering establishing a company or partnership in Japan will want to take the time to due diligence the various options to select the most appropriate form in light of their particular business and tax circumstances. Please contact us at Jackson Sogo so that we can assist you in that process.

* Note, however, that a taxpayer may “check-the-box” to treat a Japanese LLC as a pass-through entity for U.S. federal tax purposes.

** These issues are not insurmountable. For example, members of an LLP may enter into contractual arrangements on behalf of the LLP. Property registered in the name of a member on behalf of the LLP is also considered to be jointly held by the members of the LLP. However, the lack of corporate form can complicate the process, and some banks and creditors may be unwilling to do business with an LLP due to their unfamiliarity with the form.

**** Jackson Sogo (www.jacksonsogo.com) is a Japanese gyoseishoshi law office offering a wide range of Japanese corporate, immigration and family law services to clients in native English. The information provided within this client alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Copyright Jackson Sogo. All rights reserved.