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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The fundamentals of wills in Japan

By Tomoko Hayashi

Amongst the work we regularly perform is the preparation of wills (commonly called “yuigon” in Japanese, but formally called “igon” in Japanese law).

According to a survey by the Japan National Notaries Association, more than 70,000 notarized wills were prepared in 2006, which is approximately double the number prepared in 1981 and shows that the number of wills is increasing. In order to increase awareness about assets and inheritance, Japan’s bar associations have designated April 15 as “Wills Day” (based on that date rhyming with “a good will” in Japanese) and host annual events, yet many people may say “a will is an extravagance!”

In this column, I would like to explain the fundamentals of wills (standard format wills) in an easy-to-understand way.

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Automated Driving and Legal Liability

By Yasutomo Wakiyama

1. Introduction

The fatal crash in May last year that involved a Tesla Motors vehicle equipped with an automated driving function is still fresh in our memory.

Meanwhile, media outlets have reported last December’s announcement by Tokio Marine Holdings & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. that they will offer a special automobile insurance provision to policyholders free of charge from April this year that covers accidents occurring while a vehicle is under automated driving.

In this way, many issues regarding automated driving are being raised, but I would like to discuss the effect that automated driving has on legal liability for traffic accidents. Read the rest of this entry >

Qualified acceptance in practice (1)
– Views on procedure selection –

By Takuya Murao


  1. Inheritance methods

There are three inheritance methods in law that a legal heir may utilize, namely unconditional acceptance, qualified acceptance and renunciation of inheritance. Amongst these, unconditional acceptance and renunciation of inheritance are generally used, with it normally being the case that unconditional acceptance is selected when the assets outvalue the liabilities and renunciation is selected when the liabilities outvalue the assets. However, it is sometimes difficult to accurately ascertain the assets and liabilities during the period for deciding whether to renounce an inheritance (in principle 3 months, although an extension is available upon application); for example, when the decedent is a director of a company and it is possible that they are the guarantor for the company’s debts. The process of qualified acceptance is available for this type of situation. Read the rest of this entry >