In many cases, it is possible to enforce a foreign judgment in Japan, however, Japanese courts will only recognize a final foreign judgment and enforce it in Japan if it meets certain conditions. First, the judgment must have been ordered by a court with proper jurisdiction and proper service must have been given to the defendant. Second, the judgment must not be contrary to public policy in Japan. Finally, a Japanese court will be reluctant to enforce a foreign judgment if the foreign country does not recognize Japanese court judgments in return.
In general, a Japanese court should not consider the merits of whether a foreign judgment was decided correctly. However, Japanese courts are allowed to consider various aspects of the decision, including procedural fairness, when deciding whether to enforce the foreign judgment in Japan.
To enforce a foreign judgment in Japan, one of the main requirements is that the judgment not be against Japan’s public policy. This requirement can take various forms but one common type of judgment that might be considered against public policy is an award for excessive damages in tort. For example, California law allows for doubling or tripling of damages against a defendant under certain circumstances. This type of damage award might be considered against public policy in Japan and not enforceable, although each award is considered on a case by case basis.
Enforcement of a foreign judgment in Japan is not always easy. For example, one rule of law in Japan states that a judgment of a foreign court which has taken effect is valid only when the following requirements are met: (1) the jurisdiction of the foreign court is not denied by law or international treaty; (2) if the party which lost the case is a Japanese national, this party had been summoned or served a writ which is needed for the initiation of action other than by means of public notice, or without such summons or writ, had responded to the claim; (3) the judgment of the foreign court is not against the public order or good morals of Japan; and (4) there is a reciprocal guarantee.