10 Major Revisions to the Japanese Civil Code
Part Two – Extinguishment of claims

By Shinya Yoshida and Peter Cassidy

   This second part of a series on recently enacted changes to the Japanese Civil Code will look at the extinguishment of claims. The term “extinctive prescription” is often used in English translations of the Code. It describes the civil law’s way of extinguishing a claim after a certain period of time has passed. Other terms used to describe this that readers may be more familiar with include “limitation periods”, “statute of limitations” or “time bars”. Currently, Japan’s Civil Code defines a basic extinctive prescription period of 10 years, but there are a variety of specific provisions applicable to various types of claims that define shorter periods of 1, 2 or 3 years. On top of this, claims related to commercial transactions between businesses are subject to a 5-year extinctive prescription period pursuant to the Commercial Code. The revised Civil Code rearranges these various extinctive prescription periods into two categories and repeals the shorter periods.

   Despite these changes, there has been no change to the basic principles that a claim can still be made after the extinctive prescription period has expired until such time that the debtor invokes the prescription, and that a debtor who acknowledges a debt without invoking extinctive prescription becomes unable to invoke it later. In other words, the expiry of the extinctive prescription period does not automatically extinguish a claim so the debtor must actively invoke the prescription. The ability to set off one debt against a claim that has already passed the extinctive prescription deadline has not been addressed in the revision, so the ability continues to exist. Read the rest of this entry >

10 Major Revisions to the Japanese Civil Code
Part One – Standard Terms and Conditions

By Shinya Yoshida and Peter Cassidy

On Friday, 26 May 2017, a bill to amend the portions of Japan’s Civil Code relating to claims passed the National Diet. This is the first major change to this area of the Code since it was first enacted in 1896, more than 120 years ago. The aim of this large-scale revision, which includes more than 200 revisions, is to update the Code for modern society, as there are many aspects of current society that are not dealt with in the current Code, such as Internet shopping and mobile phone contracts. Although the number of revisions is large, most are intended to codify principles that have already been confirmed in judicial precedents and academic writing. As the revision act was promulgated on 2 June, the revisions will take effect sometime before June 2020.

Despite the scale and importance of the revision, there seems to be a lack of commentary regarding the revisions in English. These changes are not only important for individuals and businesses located in Japan, but they may also affect the rights and obligations of companies that have trading relationships with Japanese companies. This series of columns will introduce ten areas of revision that are especially important. This first column will look at the new rules regarding the use of standard terms and conditions. The subsequent columns will discuss extinctive prescription periods, statutory interest rates and damages for late payment, cancellation of contracts, set-off of property damage claims, guarantees, contracts for work, e.g. construction, sales contracts, mistakes in contracts, and leases.
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Regional Brand Protection and the Geographical Indication System

By Takafumi Mise


“Tajima Beef”, “Kobe Beef”, “Yubari King Melon”, “Shimonoseki Fuku”, “Iyo Silk”… these are regional products that Japan can be proud of. Also, each of these products are currently registered under the Geographical Indication (GI) system. In this column I will discuss Japan’s GI system and its legal merits within Japan.   Read the rest of this entry >

European Union Regulation on International Succession

By Yoshihiro Uetani

If a person of foreign nationality residing in Japan dies, many issues will arise including who are the deceased person’s heirs, how the deceased person’s estate should be divided, what assets and liabilities are subject to succession, the validity of any will, and how the will should be executed. Regarding these issues, the first problem to address is deciding which country’s laws apply, then dealing with the issues in accordance with the applicable law (“the governing law”). Most countries have established laws for deciding the governing law (called “private international law”); in Japan the relevant Act on General Rules for Application of Laws (Law No. 78 of 2006, “the General Rules”) was passed in June 2006. Read the rest of this entry >

Commercial Code and Act on International Carriage of Goods by Sea – Revision Bill Submitted to National Diet

By Kazuya Yamashita

Submission of Bills to Diet

The Bill to Partially Revise the Commercial Code and Act on International Carriage of Goods by Sea received Cabinet approval and was submitted to the National Diet on 18 October 2016. This Bill revises portions of the Commercial Code mainly relating to transport and maritime trade as well as portions of the Act on International Carriage of Goods by Sea. Particularly regarding the transport and maritime trade portions of the Commercial Code, because there have been no substantial revisions since the Code was established more than a century ago in 1899, it can be said that a bill long-awaited by the transport industry has finally been submitted to the Diet.
On this occasion, I would like to introduce the history of the Bill leading up to its submission to the Diet and an overview of its contents.

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