Overview of the situation of the spread of COVID-19 and its influence on legal professionals and practices
On April 7, a state of emergency was declared for seven prefectures, including Tokyo, and on April 16, the state of emergency was extended to cover the entire country. The prefectural governors of the areas covered by the declaration of the state of emergency can request residents to refrain from going out of their homes unless it is necessary to maintain their lives, and they can also request and give instructions to close schools and restrict the use of department stores, theaters and other facilities where many people gather, among other things. However, there are no penalties for failure to comply with these requests.
During the period of the declaration of the state of emergency, citizens followed the requests of the prefectural governors and restrained themselves at home except for going to medical facilities, shopping for daily necessities, commuting to work if necessary, and, outdoor exercise and walking. Many businesses also restricted their employees from coming to work and closed restaurants and other establishments that gather many people. From elementary schools to universities, schools were also closed.
As such, following the request of the prefectural governors, social activities were greatly restricted.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations also closed its main entrance in accordance with the business continuity plan (BCP), and the number of employees who came to work was greatly reduced by basically staying at home, while those who were able to telework worked from home. The unavailability of the building for committee activities led to a significant reduction in normal operations, including canceling committee meetings and events.
Currently, we are returning to a normal business structure as much as possible while using online tools.
Activities of the JFBA and local bar associations
a. Initiatives for its members
- Establishment of the task force for COVID-19 infection
- Conducting a survey of members
- Provision of information through a portal site for members on managing COVID-19 infections including Q&A for legal issues, innovations for sustainable operation of the office, training videos, applications for various types of grants
- Dissemination of guidelines for law firms to prevent the spread of COVID-19
- Conducting business support telephone consultations for members (Lawyer Business Support Hotline)
- Provision of information on the application of the Natural Disaster Debt Settlement Guidelines on damages caused by COVID-19 (online training, Q&A, various public announcements, etc.)
- Coordination and support with various local bar associations
- Coordination with related organizations including the Japan Legal Support Center (Houterasu) for the realization of legal consultation by telephone and a swift resumption of legal consultation at LAC (Legal Access Center) through cooperation with the relevant insurance companies
b. Initiatives for society
Regarding the Courts
- Discussed with the court for an early resumption of court dates
- Carried out theme-based telephone counseling such as prejudice, discrimination, invasion of privacy, labor/lifestyle issues, consumer issues, and financial troubles
- Introduced and expanded the use of telephone and online consultation services for citizens at legal consultation centers established and operated by local bar associations
- Provided legal advice to small and medium-sized businesses (e.g., consultation campaigns regarding rent payment)
- Recommendations for infection prevention in penal and immigration detention facilities
- Support for foreign residents
- Response to domestic violence and abuses
- Measures in support of sustaining the livelihoods of citizens
- Response to the Special Cash Payment
- Addressing rent issues
- Addressing the rights of the elderly and persons with disabilities
- Response to debt consolidation for rehabilitation of citizens'livelihoods
- Support for small and medium enterprises and businesses
- Comparison with international human rights standards and awareness raising
- Opposing the Bills to Amend the Infectious Diseases Act and the Special Measures Act
The Bar Exam
- Response to the postponement of the bar exam
- Response to the implementation of judicial training
- 2022/02/04 <COVID-19>Statement Calling to Provide for the Application of the Quarantine Act to the U.S. Armed Forces in Japan in the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement and Take Emergency Measures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Infection from the U.S. Military Bases in Japan
- 2021/05/14 <COVID-19>Statement Calling for a Raise in the Minimum Wage and the Implementation of the National Unified Minimum Wage to Support the Livelihood of Low-wage Workers and Stimulate Regional Economies amid the Coronavirus Crisis
- 2021/03/17 Statement Calling to Make Fundamental Review of the “Policy for Reforming Social Security for All Generations” at the time of the COVID-19 Crisis
- 2021/02/19 <COVID-19>Proposal on the COVID-19 Vaccination
- 2020/10/30 <COVID-19>Statement on the Occasion of the Commencement of Application of the “Guidelines on Liquidation Faced by Natural Disaster Victims” to Personal Debtors Affected by COVID-19
- 2020/10/30 <COVID-19>Statement Urging the Government Not to Require Nursing Care Users to Pay Add-ons Set out in the Special Measures on Regulations Concerning Extra Nursing Care Services for COVID-19, and Provide Greater Public-Funded Financial Support to Nursing Care Facilities
- 2020/09/04 <COVID-19>Declaration to Work Diligently on the Legal Issues and Human Rights Issues Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 2020/07/29 <COVID-19>Statement Calling for Building a Society without Discrimination in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 2020/06/11 <COVID-19>Statement Calling for Producing the Official Records of the Proceedings of Every Meeting of the Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting Specifying the Speaker Information and Respective Utterance Contents
- 2020/05/15 <COVID-19> Statement on Conducting the Postponed 2020 Bar Examinations
- 2020/05/15 <COVID-19> Statement Calling for the Improvement of the Emergency Loan Scheme for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises/Small-sized Businesses in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 2020/05/07 <COVID-19>Statement calling for the flexible operation of the public assistance system and its active use as a special measure during the period until the convergence of the spread of the novel coronavirus
- 2020/05/07 <COVID-19> Statement Calling to Cease the Excessive Restriction on Ordinary Visits in Penal Institutions
- 2020/05/07 <COVID-19> Statement Calling for the Relaxation of Eligibility Requirements for Housing Security Benefits and Facilitation of Applications to Aid People Facing Rental Hardship due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 2020/05/07 <COVID-19> Statement Calling for the Flexible Operation of the Public Assistance System and Facilitation of Applications as Special Measures for a Certain Period of Time until the COVID-19 Pandemic Subsides
- 2020/05/07 <COVID-19> Statement Calling for Emergency Measures to Allow Workers to Receive Unemployment Benefits by Deeming Them Unemployed, and to Expand the Scope of Payment of the Employment Adjustment Grants Immediately, in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 2020/05/01 <COVID-19>President's Emergency Statement Requesting Special Statutory Measures to Restrict Terminations of Lease Agreements Due to Failure to Pay Rent Induced by the Declaration of a State of Emergency
- 2020/04/23 <COVID-19>Statement Calling for Infection Spread Prevention in Penal Detention Facilities
- 2020/04/17 <COVID-19>Statement Calling for Preventing Escalation of Domestic Harm (Domestic Violence/Abuse) Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- 2020/04/15 <COVID-19>Statement on the Postponement of Criminal Trial Dates, etc.
- 2020/04/15 <COVID-19>Statement Calling for the elimination of the risk of “Three C’s” (closed spaces, crowded places, close-contact settings) at immigration detention facilities.