How is international jurisdiction acquired in Japan?

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Jurisdiction is a critical component of civil litigation.  Whether a court has jurisdiction or not determines whether it can issue a binding court ruling to the parties.  There are two main ways Japanese courts can obtain international jurisdiction: either through international treaties or local Japanese laws.  In either case, it may also be necessary to conduct special service of process through the Hague Service Convention.

The first major source of international jurisdiction for Japanese courts comes from international treaties.  Japan has signed a variety of treaties with foreign countries that provide international jurisdiction for specific types of international cases such as cases relating to oil spills or airplanes.

Japan also has a few domestic laws that authorize international jurisdiction in cases such as international bankruptcy and guardianship.  In addition, Japanese courts can claim international jurisdiction in certain other cases where venue would be appropriate in Japan such as where the property in dispute is located in Japan.

It should be noted that in international cases it may also be necessary to obtain jurisdiction over a foreign party through the Hague Service Convention.  Service of process through the Convention requires Japanese plaintiffs to serve foreign defendants through their local court system and may involve translating relevant documents and waiting for local courts to act.

If you have a question about international jurisdiction in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.