I‘ve been writing articles for Fukuoka Now since July 2018. However, as I now specialize in commercial disputes and do not practice in areas in which most readers have interest, I pass the baton onto Ms. Masayo Boston, a legal professional who could better meet readers’ needs.
In my last article, based on my experience receiving inquiries from readers over the past four years, I will sort out the types of inquiries and briefly advise how they should be handled.
You have a non-contentious case if you have a legal issue that is not a dispute. Below are the areas that I mainly received inquiries from readers.
• Extending or switching a visa
• Applying for a visa (mainly from outside Japan)
• Certifying or notarising a document
• Starting an export/import business
• Setting up a company
• Making a will
• Buying a real estate
• Information on various regulations (e.g., voluntary liquidation, importing a particular item, Bitcoin)
In this digital age, most information is available on the internet. Of course, the best way is to access a primary source in Japanese. However, you can still find information in English or other languages offered by ex-pats, etc., which can be an excellent secondary source (I advise you to double-check with several independent sources, though). With that information, you might be able to resolve your issue yourself. At least, you will be able to arm yourself with basic knowledge before seeking help from someone.
Suppose your case requires application or documentation. In that case, I generally advise you to hire a legal professional (see my previous article: Classifications for Professionals in Japan), as such cases tend to be complex, in addition to the language barrier.
You have a contentious case if you have a legal dispute (i.e., a dispute that can develop into a lawsuit). Below are the areas that I mainly received inquiries from readers.
• Non-renewal of a fixed-term employment contract
• Other potential disputes at work (mainly between an ALT and a school)
• Information on various family disputes (e.g., child support, adultery)
• Information on various criminal offenses (e.g., cannabis, pornography)
From my experience handling several lawsuits on behalf of individual international clients, I must say that it will require more time and costs than ordinary cases. This is mainly because of the language barrier. The court language is Japanese, while documentary and oral evidence are often provided in non-Japanese. It usually won’t pay for hiring an attorney to represent such cases unless an amount in dispute is substantial.
If you speak Japanese to some extent or have a Japanese speaker who gives you help, I advise you to try an alternative dispute resolution. For instance, an individual prefectural Labor Bureau offers a mediation (assen) free of charge, urging the parties (e.g., an ALT and a school) to negotiate and settle a dispute.
Thank you for reading my articles up until this one.
 Assistant Language Teacher
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this article is accurate at the time of posting, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ. If you do require advice or wish to find out more about the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.