Parties in Japan are free to contract regarding almost anything but contracts that are against public policy are considered void. This makes sense and most people would agree that the concerns of public health and safety outweigh the parties’ right to enforce a contract for the sale of illegal drugs. However, there is no specific line to determine which contracts will be considered as “against public policy,” and contracts that might infringe on public policy are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Sometimes these public policy goals may not be as obvious as the above example where the contract in question was also a violation of criminal law. Another example of a contract that could be invalidated as against public policy is a contract signed between a husband and his mistress that would require the husband to divorce his wife. Since divorce is also against public policy, although not illegal, it’s possible that such a contract would not be valid. Therefore it is always best to talk with a lawyer before drafting or signing any contracts that might run afoul of this rule.
If you have any questions about contracting in Japan, please contact our office to set up a legal consultation.