Are prenuptial agreements legal in Japan?

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Japan’s Civil Code section regarding prenuptial agreements states that husbands and wives may enter into a contract before marriage that authorizes a different asset distribution from the normal statutory division used in a divorce.  This allows the husband and wife to enter into a prenuptial agreement regarding the division of their assets upon divorce.  However, there are some strict conditions on the use of this statute that couples should be aware of.

First, the prenuptial agreement should be entered into before the marriage is registered.  Furthermore, the agreement itself needs to be registered in order for it to have binding effect on any 3rd parties involved.  Finally, the couple should not forget to include a clause in the contract that allows the agreement to be modified or terminated if they so wish.  Without wording in the contract that allows changes to be made, there is no way to modify the agreement if the couple wants to add or subtract something from it at a later date.  Prenuptial agreements are still very rare in Japan and therefore the courts have very little experience working with them.  Until the practice of signing prenuptial agreements becomes more popular in Japan it will continue to be difficult to predict how courts will react to their use.

If you have questions about prenuptial agreements in Japan please contact our office for a legal consultation.