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HOME > Public Statements and Opinion Papers > Statements > Declaration to further promote the expansion of legal services required by globalization and internationalization of society and the improvement of access to these services

Declaration to further promote the expansion of legal services required by globalization and internationalization of society and the improvement of access to these services


 


With the innovative evolution of information and communication technologies and transportation, coupled with the rapid globalization of the economy, information now travels around the world instantly, large volumes of goods and capital move across borders, and people and companies travel across borders actively and frequently.


The number of foreign residents and foreign workers in Japan is rapidly increasing. With the creation of a new status of residence known as a “specified skilled worker,” the employment of foreign workers and the multi-nationalization of human resources are expected to expand dramatically, not only in large cities but also throughout the country. The demand for various legal services related to the lives of foreigners living in Japan is also expected to rise in the near future.


Furthermore, the number of companies that are actively engaged in so-called outbound businesses, such as developing the overseas market, conducting the import and export businesses with overseas clients, distributors, agencies or outsourcing production to overseas is on the rise nationwide, irrespective of company size. On the other hand, with the rapid growth in inbound activities, foreign companies, both large and small, are entering the Japanese market in full scale. Accordingly, the number of Japan’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in transactions and partnerships with these companies is increasing nationwide.


As mentioned above, the trend of internationalization has spread to not only large cities but also to rural areas.  Bar associations and attorneys alike will be required to be more internationalized in providing the legal services in such a trend.  In order to respond effectively, it is necessary for the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) to promptly reinforce its structure to provide legal services in line with the fundamental purposes set forth in its “Mission Statement on International Affairs,” formulated by the JFBA on February 18th, 2016.


As such, we, the JFBA, in cooperation and collaboration with the bar associations and other stakeholders, declare to enhance the following efforts, to seek to protect human rights and achieve the rule of law both inside and outside of Japan in this era of globalization and internationalization, and to further actively promote the expansion of, and the improvement of access to, the legal services required.


1 Improvements of legal access and services for foreign nationals in Japan
With the increase in the number of foreign technical interns and foreign workers with the new kinds of status of residence, in order to protect foreign workers’ rights and provide them with appropriate remedies,  the JFBA will strengthen its previous efforts in remedies for foreign technical interns , while appealing for the abolition of the Technical Intern Training Program, and advocate for the improvement of the system and provide guidance and advice for hiring companies, so that the newly introduced program for residence status should be used properly.


In addition, the JFBA will continue to promote collaboration between attorneys, and with relevant organizations, and also foster human resources nationwide, who take the central role in foreign national cases in order to ensure that foreign residents in Japan, including foreign workers, can live together in the community without experiencing any discrimination in various situations, such as living environments, workplaces, school, and others, and that attorneys provide appropriate legal services to the foreign residents in Japan who face immigration or family issues. Also, the JFBA will expand its legal services throughout Japan by strengthening cooperation among one-stop type consultation counters (centralized consultation counters) set up and operated by local governments and international exchange associations, etc. with the support of the national government all over Japan and the Japan Legal Support Center, and by building a nationwide system to provide high-quality legal consultation in multiple languages.


Furthermore, the JFBA calls upon the Japanese government to improve on the immigration practice so that foreign nationals can live within international human rights standards, such as the union of families, under proper procedures.


2 Promotion of business and human rights initiatives
The JFBA will continue to make efforts in order that Japanese corporations would conduct business activities in an appropriate way through extending the “Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence (guidebook)”, which the JFBA, triggered by the endorsement by the United Nations of the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework” in 2011 (hereinafter referred to as “Guiding Principles”), formulated and published on January 7th, 2015, in light with the trends in international human rights law and national laws and regulations across the world. We will continue to actively express our views so that the contents of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights that the government plans to formulate, in line with the Guiding Principles, will be enhanced and implemented effectively. In addition, we will continue our efforts to work with the society to ensure that both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms are expanded to achieve access to effective legal remedies for victims of human rights violations at home and abroad caused by corporate activities.


3 Promotion to support internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
In order to promote and disseminate support for SMEs pursuing overseas business expansion throughout the country, the JFBA will make further efforts to enhance its Attorney Referral System for Japanese SMEs going overseas by increasing the number of participating bar associations, cooperating agencies and registered organizations, to train a pool of attorneys competent to provide legal support for SMEs’ overseas business expansion nationwide, and to promote awareness within SMEs as to the need for professional legal support by attorneys and effective methods for access to legal services. The JFBA also aims to advance assistance in SMEs’ internationalization as we explore the possibilities of working together in close coordination with the local attorneys and bar associations in overseas countries in which SMEs expand their business, and study for comprehensive support measures for SMEs, including measures to deal with inbound investments.


4 Promotion of international arbitration and international mediation
In order to encourage Japanese companies including SMEs involved in international trade and investment, and foreign companies, to utilize ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) such as international arbitration and mediation with Japan as a forum of dispute resolution, the JFBA, in cooperation with the Japanese government, arbitral institutions / ADR agencies, and related organizations such as the Japan Association of Arbitrators and others, will support the development of hearing facilities, demand the further development of relevant legal system including the Arbitration Act, and reinforce the approach to human resource training, publicity and awareness-raising activities for international arbitration and mediation.


5 Dissemination of information on Japanese laws and legal systems
In order to improve access to legal services for foreigners in Japan, to facilitate international B to B transactions, and to promote investment in Japan, the JFBA will promote the actions to deepen domestic and international understandings of Japanese laws and legal systems by offering information internationally in multiple languages (including English). In addition, the JFBA will encourage the government to disseminate a wider range of information of Japanese laws and legal systems, while further assisting the Ministry of Justice in its promotion and expansion of English translation of Japanese laws and regulations.


6 Development of international attorneys
In order to meet the legal needs required in internationalization and to contribute to the international community, it is essential to expand the number of attorneys and improve the skills of attorneys who would be able to take international cases. Specifically, the JFBA will train and support attorneys who can handle international cases such as the cases of foreign nationals, the cases of overseas business expansion of SMEs and international arbitration and mediation, etc. Through such efforts, the JFBA will expand the resource of lawyers interested in the international field in medium and long-term perspective. In addition, we will enhance the support system for expanding the number of lawyers who can be active in the international field and promote the utilization of the system.


7 Cooperation with and support for bar associations
In cooperation with bar associations, to expand the legal services that are required nationwide, the JFBA will assist the bar associations’ efforts in improving the environment to provide legal services for foreigners and companies in their respective areas. The JFBA will also improve our system so that we can provide more effective support when bar associations have exchanges with overseas law societies and attorneys, or when they promote the overseas business expansion of SMEs.
   

We declare as above.



June 14, 2019
Japan Federation of Bar Associations




Reasons for proposal

I.Purpose of this Declaration -Realization of Mission Statement on International Affairs in the Progress of Globalization and Internationalization

With the innovative evolution of information and communication technologies and transportation, coupled with the rapid globalization of the economy, the number of foreign residents and workers in Japan has been increasing rapidly, and not only large Japanese companies, but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are expanding their business overseas and conducting international business in both Japan and abroad. This progress in the internationalization of society gives rise to a wide range of issues related to the international efforts of the JFBA, which we are required to address continuously.


In view of these circumstances, on February 18th, 2016, the JFBA formulated and published its “Mission Statement on International Affairs” in order to clarify its philosophy in regard to international legal activities and to develop the fundamental purposes with specific measures on this philosophy.


At the beginning of the Mission Statement, it is stated as follows;


The JFBA, being an organization of mandatory membership, represents all attorneys in Japan and maintains a high level of self-governance and independence from any other authority. On the basis that attorneys in Japan are entrusted with the mission to protect fundamental human rights and to achieve social justice, the JFBA has sought to achieve the rule of law and the realization of peace. While recognizing that activities of people, as well as the economy underpinning them have been globalized, and that laws and legal systems have accordingly become internationalized, the JFBA is committed to continue to actively strive to enhance its reputation at the international level, bearing in mind its mission and based on the path it has taken.


The JFBA will provide institutional support to its members to facilitate effective engagement in public-interest activities and to expand fields of practice and activities based on the above-mentioned mission in the era of globalization and internationalization.


Specifically, such support includes the followings:


To make proposals and provide training on professional ethics of cross-border activities of attorneys; to engage in activities aiming at the universal achievement of the independence of attorneys, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights; to exchange and cooperate with bar associations and law societies in foreign countries and jurisdictions, international bar organizations, and international organizations, such as the United Nations; to address the needs of corporations and individuals inside and outside Japan that are recipients of legal services arising within internationalization; to provide support to strengthen the base for expanding the supply of legal services in the internationalized field; etc.


Following the opening declaration, the Mission Statement divides the JFBA’s international activities into three parts, namely “1. Activities relating to public-interest, human rights, achievement of the rule of law, etc.”, “2. Activities relating to the legal profession and the role of bar associations”, and “3. Activities to strengthen the structure to provide legal services to meet various legal needs in society.” These three activities each have respective fundamental purposes. Of these fundamental purposes, this declaration is pertaining particularly to “(1) To contribute to strengthening and developing international human rights standards and international human rights mechanisms and to engage in activities that address human rights issues inside and outside of Japan and provide remedies for human rights violations.” under the “1. Activities relating to public-interest, human rights, achievement of the rule of law, etc.”, and “(1) To improve access to attorneys and the judicial system in Japan for both corporations (Japanese and foreign corporations) and individuals (including foreign nationals and ethnic minorities) with regard to the legal services expected within internationalization.” and “(2) To train and expand a pool of attorneys with full expertise and strong experience with regard to the legal services arising within internationalization and to provide support to strengthen a base for expanding practice areas of attorneys.” of “3. Activities to strengthen the structure to provide legal services to meet the various legal needs in society.”


This declaration is to clarify the current status of each activity in line with the philosophy and fundamental purposes of this Mission Statement and to confirm the direction of future activities of the JFBA for specific issues.



II. Expansion of legal services and improvement access thereto for international-related cases

1. Surging number of foreign residents and foreign workers


The number of foreign visitors to Japan has increased year on year, reaching 31,191,856 for the year of 2018, representing a record high since the statistics started being recorded, and increasing by approximately four times in the last 10 years according to the Japan National Tourist Organization. In addition, the number of foreign residents (medium-to long-term residents and special permanent residents) has increased each year, reaching a record high of 2,371,093 in 2018 based on statistics provided by the Ministry of Justice. Furthermore, the number of foreign workers (excluding special permanent residents) based on the status of reporting on the employment of foreign workers by employers, including foreign technical interns and foreign students working with permission is rapidly increasing, with the number reaching 1,460,463 at the end of October 2018, and has increased by about 200,000 every year in recent years, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Along with this, the number of establishments that employ foreign workers is also increasing, and as of the end of October 2018, has reached 216,348 locations nationwide, representing an increase of 11.2% from the previous year, based on data provided by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. In addition to these circumstances, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter referred to as the “Immigration Control Act”) was amended in 2018, and in the immigration policy, the principle to recognize the status of residence for the purpose of working only in professional and technical fields was changed with the introduction of a new status of residence, “Specified Skilled Worker”, allowing companies to employ foreign workers in more fields.


With the effectuation of the revised Immigration Control Act on April 1st, 2019, up to 34,550 foreign workers with the new status of residence, “Specified Skilled Worker” are expected to arrive within the next five years.


2. Past efforts and future prospects and practices


(1) Remedies for human rights violations in the Technical Intern Training Program


On the other hand, human rights violations against foreigners, including foreign workers, remain rife. In particular, with regard to the Technical Intern Training Program, due to its structural problems of not allowing workers to change their workplace, the existence of malicious dispatch organizations, and people arriving in Japan with large debts, serious human rights violations such as receiving low wages, working long hours, deportation after losing residential status have occurred. The JFBA has consistently called for the abolition of the Technical Intern Training Program through preparing the “Opinion Calling for Urgent Abolition of the Technical Intern Training Program” dated June 20th, 2013, and also compiling the “Declaration Calling for the Introduction of a New System to Accept Foreign Workers and the Establishment of a New Society in which People from Various National Backgrounds can Live Together” at the 61st Convention on Protection of Human Rights in 2018 (hereinafter referred to as the “Human Rights Convention Declaration”).


While continuing to appeal for the abolition of the Technical Intern Training Program, we will make every effort to redress the foreign technical interns who have suffered or are suffering from any infringement on their human rights.


(2) Efforts over the establishment of the status of residence “Specified Skilled Worker”


Although a new status of residence “Specified Skilled Worker” was introduced following the revision of the Immigration Control Act, there still remains some concerns of the inadequacy of the regulations on brokers in the countries sending people to Japan, and also that efforts from companies accepting foreign workers and from the Registered Support Organizations that receive funding from the accepting companies may not be enough to prevent human rights abuses from happening(Human Rights Convention Declaration).


Attorneys and bar associations are required to develop the structure to work on the enlightenment and instruction of legal compliance of the companies accepting foreign workers so as to maintain a legitimate working environment even for those in the new status of residence as well as to expand foreign workers’ access to legal services and to work on remedies for any rights violations in cooperation with local authorities and the Japan Legal Support Center (hereinafter referred to as the “JLSC”), etc.


(3) Coordination and cooperation with one-stop type consultation counters in a multicultural symbiotic society


In addition to foreign nationals living in Japan, such as foreign residents and foreign workers, people with foreign roots, including those who acquired Japanese nationality after birth and Japanese born of foreign national parents, will have their lives in local communities.


However, our society is far from the kind of environment where these people can live together in communities free from discriminatory behaviors in many aspects of their social lives at companies and schools, such as renting accommodation, working and learning Japanese. Measures to eliminate discrimination by hate speech etc. have only just been implemented and social participation such as the appointment of a Japanese attorney with foreign nationality as a mediation member has not yet been realized. Under these circumstances, providing legal assistance to people with foreign roots, including foreigners who are experiencing various daily life issues such as work problems, traffic accidents, housing problems, problems within the family, problems of status of residence and nationality, etc., is also an urgent issue (Human Rights Convention Declaration). In order to ensure that attorneys can provide proper legal services to those facing such problems, it is necessary to further promote collaboration among attorneys and also with relevant organizations.


In addition, the Japanese government will support the establishment and operation of a one-stop type consultation counters (centralized consultation counters) set up by local governments and its outsourced operators such as local international associations. It is necessary to set up the counters providing legal consultation nationwide, and to establish the structure where the bar associations can coordinate and cooperate with the counters. Moreover, in cooperation with these consultation counters, the JFBA will call on the JLSC and related ministries and agencies to establish systems for consultation and support in multiple languages all over the country.


(4) Training of human resources who deal with foreigner-related cases


It is urgent to reinforce the capability of attorneys to deal with legal problems of people with foreign roots. To that end, the JFBA has held a nationwide experience exchange meeting for cases involving foreigners and a liaison meeting of foreigner-related sections or committees as a place for training and information exchange. Furthermore, by e-learning, etc., the JFBA will further enhance the training on immigration law, international family cases, labor, etc. and train attorneys who can handle consultations throughout the country.


(5) Reform of immigration control system


Substantial administrative discretion still exists in the procedures of residence of foreigners, and there are problems, such as detention with no fixed time limits without judicial screening in deportation procedures, and despite the increase in the number of foreign residents, the reform of these systems is yet to progress. An immigration control system that enables Japan to be able to stay in accordance with international human rights standards such as family reunion, under appropriate procedures, needs to be reformed in order for Japan to become a country that earns trust from the international community and becomes “a country of choice” for foreigners and the JFBA will continue to address this issue.



III. Promotion of initiatives for Business and Human Rights

1. UN international framework for Business and Human Rights


With the globalization and internationalization of corporate activities, issues in relation to Business and Human Rights in companies have become urgent to be tackled.


The relationship between business and human rights has attracted international attention since before. In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the Guiding Principles, which became an international framework for Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles consists of three pillars: (1) the state duty to protect against human rights abuse by third parties, including business enterprises, (2) the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and (3) access to remedies. The Guiding Principles requires companies to treat the risk of causing or contributing to serious human rights violations as a “legal compliance issues” with positioning the duty of business enterprises to respect internationally recognized human rights as “existing over and above compliance with national laws and regulations”. Triggered by the endorsement of the Guiding Principles, human rights issues have emerged as a core management issue, and companies have been forced to tackle them seriously. The Guiding Principles is also mentioned in the implementation of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, including the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” comprising of 17 goals and 169 targets, which was adopted in the UN General Assembly in 2015. In addition, under the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, companies are also required to comply with the Guiding Principles in the way they respond to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and also in their investment decision criteria.


Encouraging each country to develop a National Action Plan (hereinafter referred to as “NAP”) as one of the ways of implementing the first pillar of the Guiding Principles, namely (1) “state duty to protect against human rights abuse by third parties, including business enterprises”. NAP identifies gaps between existing laws and human rights issues and provides a roadmap of national measures. As of April 2019, more than 20 countries developed NAP. The Japanese government also declared that it would develop its NAP in November 2016, aiming to announce it officially by mid-2020.


2. Business and Human Rights initiatives


(1) Formulation of “Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence”


On January 7th, 2015, with regard to the second pillar of the Guiding Principles, namely (2) “corporate responsibility to respect human rights,” the JFBA formulated and published “Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence (guidebook) ”. This guidance is designed for attorneys who advise Japanese companies and firms about how Japanese companies should deal with human rights issues in accordance with the Guiding Principles in both domestic and overseas business management, and how the Guiding Principles should be integrated into the business activities and legal compliance practices of companies. Furthermore, on August 23rd, 2018, the JFBA formulated and published the “Guide on ESG-related Risk Management - for Coordinated Efforts and Dialogue among Companies, Investors, and Financial Institutions” (hereinafter referred to as “ESG Guidance”). The ESG Guidance provides practical guidelines for companies to disclose the status of their risk response strategy regarding ESG, including human rights as non-financial information, and for institutional investors and financial institutions to manage the ESG risks of the companies they invest in or finance, and to work with them in order to respect human rights through investment chains. The ESG Guidance is designed for companies, institutional investors, financial institutions, and attorneys who advise those organizations.


(2) Recommendations for the formulation of the NAP


In addition to such activities targeting companies, the JFBA submitted statements of opinion to the Government of Japan in September 2016, July 2017 and January 2019, respectively, and made recommendations on the formulation of the NAP, as well as the priorities the NAP should hold. Also, even in the baseline study conducted in preparation for the formulation of the NAP, the JFBA continuously participates in opinion exchanging meetings with the government and provides relevant information including on the human rights issues faced by Japanese companies and society, gaps existing in legal systems.


3. Future prospects and practices


In the globalization and internationalization of corporate activities, by instilling the contents of the “Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence (guidebook) ” into corporate activities, regardless of the size of companies, the JFBA will advance its activities so that Japanese companies would assess the risk of human rights and establish an internal control system to prevent or mitigate negative impacts. The JFBA also aims to improve business activities that companies assess whether client companies with relationships through for instance investment, supply chains give appropriate consideration and perform appropriate activities in terms of protecting human rights, and use their leverage to realize appropriate business activities carried out by client companies, when conducting transactions with all business partners, such as suppliers, outsourcing contractors, purchasers, borrowers, business alliance partners, acquisition partners.


In addition, the JFBA will continue to express the views actively so that the contents of the NAP on Business and Human Rights formulated by the government will be enhanced.


Furthermore, with regard to the third pillar of the Guiding Principles, namely (3) “Access to remedies”, in addition to activating the National Contact Point (NCP), established based on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Japanese government must encourage corporations and industrial groups to set up a grievance mechanism to ensure that those affected by human rights violations through business activities have access to effective remedies. In order to secure access to effective remedies in line with the Guiding Principles, the JFBA will continue to work on the government in collaboration with civil society with respect to the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution and the introduction of an individual complaints mechanism, which have for long been sought.



IV. Promotion to support internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

1. Internationalization of SMEs The number of SMEs


has generally been increasing since 2004. In 2015, 4,544 enterprises engaged in exporting, and the proportion of exporting enterprises has also risen, reaching 21% in 2015, which represents a growth of 1.3 times over the last 15 years. Both the export value and the export ratio to total sales of SMEs have been increasing year by year. The export value which was 2.6 trillion yen in the fiscal year of 2001, increased by approximately 2.5 times to 6.2 trillion yen in the fiscal year of 2015, while the export ratio to total sales which was 2.3% in the fiscal year of 2001, increased to 4.1% in the fiscal year of 2015. In addition, the proportion of SMEs holding subsidiaries overseas also trends towards increasing with each passing year. In 2014, the total number of SMEs among direct investment enterprises were 6,346 and accounted for 72.4% of all direct investment enterprises (2018 White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan). Also, considering the goal of achieving overseas expansion to 10,000 SMEs was set as part the government's SME policy in 2013,

SMEs' overseas expansion will almost certainly grow wider in the future, as these enterprises are expected to actively try and capture overseas demand.


Furthermore, with the recent inbound boom, foreign companies are increasingly expanding into Japan, and there is also an increase in SMEs involved in foreign domestic business, such as the acceptance of foreign investment and transaction and alliances with foreign-affiliated companies that have made inroads into the Japanese market.


2. Need for legal support for companies expanding overseas


The need for legal support for SMEs expanding overseas is increasing since various problems often occur due to differences in culture, customs, laws and regulations and market environments in business activities conducted in foreign countries and transactions with foreign companies. If legal disputes develop, they may be at a higher level of legal risk than in Japan, for example, due to the high cost of litigation overseas, and in some countries, there may be concerns about the credibility of the justice system. Preventive measures and the initial response in cases of suspected legal issues are important.


However, in many cases SMEs do not consult with legal experts capable of dealing with these legal issues. Also, even if SMEs have sought to receive legal support, it is not necessarily easy to find attorneys who provide international legal services, and such attorneys, at present, tend to be limited to urban areas and there are barriers to access to legal services.


3. Support for the internationalization of SMEs


(1). Attorney Referral System for Japanese SMEs going overseas


In light of these circumstances, the JFBA has been introducing supporting attorneys who meet certain experience requirements to SMEs that need legal support for overseas business expansion since 2012, and has been providing consultations at relatively low cost (initially on a trial basis, and then standardized from April, 2016). At present, in collaborating with Japan External Trade Organization, the Japan Finance Corporation, the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Shinkin Central Bank, and the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Organizations, and accepting registrations from multiple regional banks, the JFBA is responding to the referral requests for supporting attorneys for SMEs supported by these organizations. Beside this, the JFBA has been collaborating with the Japan Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for Overseas Construction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation. With the gradual expansion of the project implementation area since its launch in 2012, the JFBA has operated the Attorney Referral System in 13 prefectures across the country as of April 1st, 2019 and has received and handled a total of approximately 340 referrals with approximately 260 supporting attorneys with extensive experience in international corporate legal affairs and transactional legal affairs.


(2) Human resources development for legal support


With regard to the training of human resources responsible for legal support for overseas development of SMEs, the JFBA carries out various types of practical training including offering a number of e-learning courses ranging from legal considerations regarding overseas development and the practice of preparing written contracts in English to basic knowledge of local laws. Furthermore, with the aim of expanding human resources, since 2017, the JFBA has implemented basic introductory courses for attorneys who have no experience in international transactions.


4. Future prospects and practices


In the future, the JFBA aims to first increase the number of implementing bar associations, cooperating agencies and registration organizations and expand the Attorney Referral System for Japanese SMEs going Overseas. Following that, the JFBA will train attorneys who can provide legal support for overseas development of SMEs nationwide. In addition, the JFBA will promote efforts to publicize and enlighten SMEs about the need for legal support for SMEs’ overseas development, the contents of support services for their overseas development provided by attorneys, and the effective use of the Attorney Referral System. Then, targeting the bar associations of foreign countries (regions) where SMEs are expanding overseas, especially the bar associations that have signed a friendship agreement with the JFBA, the JFBA will explore the possibility of business cooperation relationships, and enhance the study of comprehensive support measures for SMEs internationalization, including dealing with inbound investments.



V. Promotion of international arbitration and international mediation

1. Usefulness of international arbitration and international mediation as a means of resolving international disputes


With the globalization of the economy and the resulting increasing number of international disputes among companies in different countries, international arbitration, in which disputes are resolved through the award made by arbitrators who are appointed by the parties involved, is becoming mainstream as a means of resolving international disputes.


However, in Japan, international arbitration and international mediation have not been actively utilized, as it has been shown that dispute settlement clauses have not always been the focus of contract negotiations between Japanese companies and foreign companies. As for the number of international arbitration cases handled by the major arbitral institutions, Japan is far behind other Asian countries. To elaborate, the number of newly accepted international arbitration cases by the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA) in 2017 was 17, compared to 476 cases by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), 374 cases by the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC), 217 cases by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center (HKIAC), and 78 cases by the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board (KCAB). Setting aside the mediation of family matters in Hague Convention cases, etc., Japan has just entered the midst of international commercial mediation.


Unlike a court trial, international arbitration is characterized by its procedure to resolve a dispute which is in line with international standards, not bound by the court procedure of the place of such dispute, and the arbitral award can be enforced in approximately 160 countries based on the Convention. Furthermore, besides the disputes between companies, international arbitration is also utilized in international disputes between companies and states, or between states, as it is regarded as a neutral means of dispute resolution which is independent from the relationship between the state and the parties involved. With the globalization of corporate economic activities, it is expected that the trend to use international arbitration as a means of resolving a dispute between companies will accelerate in the future. It is believed that the need for international mediation, which resolves disputes through discussions instead of judicial decisions, is also increasing, in line with the growing number of international arbitration.


2. Developing a system to revitalize international arbitration


As Japanese companies including SMEs are entering overseas market, it would be beneficial for them if the arbitration or mediation can be held in Japan, as it leads to reducing the burden, including but not limited to financial burden, to go through the court procedure of foreign countries. Therefore, as proposed in the “Opinion Calling for the Enhancement of the Functions of International Arbitration in Japan” published by the JFBA on February 16th, 2017, it is essential to promptly take measures to develop the system to strengthen the function of international arbitration in Japan. Specifically, such measures include the improvement of infrastructure of human and physical resources, through the establishment of facilities suitable for international arbitration, development of legal system concerning arbitration, development of arbitral institutions, securing and training of the legal practitioners involved in arbitration, and the support for the private sector in the areas of efforts listed above.


The Japanese government has proposed the revitalization of international arbitration in the “Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform (Facial policy)” (approved by the cabinet on June 9th of 2017) in 2017, and the “Inter-ministerial Liaison Conference for Revitalizing International Arbitration” set up in September of the same year has published the “Possible Measures for Activating International Arbitration (Interim Report)” in April 2018, which suggests that international arbitration is now an essential infrastructure for international dispute resolution, and that Japan, as an economic and financial center, should develop a comprehensive infrastructure through the collaboration between public and private sectors. The environment is now ready for the revitalization of international arbitration.


3. Future prospects and practices


The JFBA has been working on the revitalization of international arbitration, basing it on three pillars: (1) development of facilities, (2) development of the legal system, and (3) training of human resources.


As for the development of facilities, which is the first pillar, the Japan International Dispute Settlement Center (hereinafter referred to as the “JIDRC”) opened Japan’s first dedicated facility for international arbitration and ADR in Nakanoshima, Osaka in May 2018, with the cooperation of relevant ministries and agencies. The JFBA will, together with the Japan Association of Arbitrators (hereinafter referred to as the "JAA"), continue to support the activities of the JIDRC. The JFBA will, together with the JAA and others, seek cooperation and support in the establishment of another hearing facility in Tokyo prior to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to be held in 2020, by requesting the same to the relevant ministries and agencies.


With regards to international mediation, on the other hand, the JAA has collaborated with Doshisha University and established the “Kyoto International Mediation Center” in November 2018. The development of facilities in this area is also in progress.


Concerning the development of the legal system, which is the second pillar, the JFBA has been working on the draft plan to reflect the UNCITRAL Model Law (with amendments as adopted in 2006) to the Arbitration Act, believing that further development of the relevant legal system of arbitration, including the Arbitration Act, is essential to make the international arbitration in Japan in line with the international standards. The JFBA will request the relevant ministries and agencies to amend the Arbitration Act in this regard. Furthermore, the JFBA has started a study for the enactment of the International Arbitration and Mediation Promotion Act, which contains comprehensive measures for the promotion of international arbitration and mediation and the duty of the state and relevant organizations.


Regarding the third pillar, the training of human resources, it has been pointed out that the number of arbitrators, mediators and counsels in Japan who are capable of handling international arbitration and mediation is small. The JFBA, in cooperation with the JAA, the JIDRC and relevant ministries and agencies etc., will engage in publicity activities such as organizing symposia inside and outside Japan, raise the awareness of international arbitration and mediation, and also organize practical seminars and training sessions across the country, so that the range of human resources will be expanded.



VI. Dissemination of information on Japanese laws and legal system.

In view of the recent progress in internationalization as mentioned above, it is necessary to offer internationally a wider range of information on Japanese laws, dispute resolution systems such as trial, mediation and arbitration, and legal systems including legislatives flow, in order to extend legal services for and improve access from foreign residents and business entities in Japan.


As a part of international dissemination of information, the Ministry of Justice has advanced the Project to Promote the Translation of Japanese Laws and Regulations into Foreign Languages for the last 10 years, with which the JFBA has cooperated by responding to inquiries about laws and regulations to be prioritized for translation, and by recommending members of the Japanese Law Translation Council.


Following the establishment of the Council on the Vision for Publicizing Japanese Laws Internationally (hereinafter referred to as the “Vision Council”) in December 2018 in the Ministry of Justice, the JFBA published the “Opinion Concerning the Vision for Publicizing Japanese Laws and Regulations Internationally” on January 18th, 2019, which highlighted the need to improve the system for promoting the translation of Japanese laws and regulations into foreign languages (including the active use of AI translation), to introduce more extensive information of Japanese laws (such as translation of summary of laws), and to improve access to and dissemination of legal information. The JFBA understands that “The 2019 Vision for Publicizing Japanese Laws Internationally” formulated by the Vision Council on March 29th of the same year aims the same goals as the above JFBA opinion. The JFBA will further continue its assist for the promotion and expansion of the Project to Promote the Translation of Japanese Laws and Regulations into Foreign Languages.


Moreover, further efforts, such as English translation of court cases that have had a major impact on the construction of Japanese laws, and consideration of the translation of such legal information into other languages including Chinese , are immediately needed, from the perspective of internationalization. The JFBA will encourage with all relevant parties on these matters.


Furthermore, information dissemination of information on Japanese laws and legal systems should be carried out in multiple languages including English and in an across-all-ministries manner. The JFBA will urge the government to set up a portal site to aggregate such information.


At the same time, the JFBA will continue to undertake an effort to offer the information of Japanese laws and legal systems internationally and deepen both domestic and international understanding of them, through holding joint symposia and seminars with overseas bar associations on major themes in international legal cases, such as international arbitration and international family law.



VII. Development of international attorneys

In order to meet the legal needs arising from the increased internationalization and to contribute to the international community, we need to develop human resources urgently both in numbers and quality. We need to train and expand the number of attorneys with the necessary expertise and experience in international legal matters. To achieve this, the JFBA has held seminars and other programs aimed at providing valuable knowledge and information on cases of foreign nationals and oversea market development for SMEs, and knowledge and expertise on specific international legal matters such as international arbitration and mediation. Other than this, in order to expand the base of legal professionals with interest in the international field from a more medium to long-term perspective, the JFBA holds a “Symposium on International Practice by Attorneys” to introduce attorneys’ international work across the country. The JFBA also organizes , “International Career Seminar for Legal Professions” etc., with the cooperation of relevant ministries and organizations. This seminar targets future attorneys including university students in the faculty of law who aspires to build international career.


The JFBA aims to enhance the contents of these aforementioned seminars while keeping in mind the business and human rights perspectives and ensuring that lawyers across the country have the opportunity to attend seminars. The JFBA will foster and support attorneys, providing them with more effective legal information.


In addition to holding seminars, etc., the JFBA has opened an e-learning course “English for Lawyers” as an English-language training resource, and has made efforts for lawyers, who have an interest in the international field but have little experience, and lawyers who want to improve their language skills, to enhance their basic skills of foreign language and communication, including practical English which is useful for international cases.


Also, in order to provide more practical and useful advice to clients in cases with elements of international transactions, it is essential to obtain the latest knowledge and information on international trends in relevant fields and the local legal systems and legal culture. As an opportunity to obtain such knowledge and information, it is useful for the attorneys to participate in international conferences, to train at overseas law firms, to study abroad, etc., and it is also important to develop personal networks with local lawyers which they can cultivate through these opportunities. The JFBA has established support systems such as partial subsidy in the admission fee for young attorneys participating in international conferences, an internship exchange program with the Law Society of Hong Kong, and a program to study at overseas law schools by recommendation, and will continue to focus on the enhancement of the support for the internationalization of attorneys.


As for these support systems, the JFBA will continuously strive to optimize the effectiveness of the training of human resources within a limited budget. Furthermore, we will work to expand the means of public relations so that necessary information can be delivered in a timely manner, and promote the use of the systems, as it is currently not sufficiently informed to the attorneys.



VIII. Cooperation and support with bar associations

In order to expand the required legal services nationwide, it is essential to work with the local bar associations to share the common view on the current status of Japanese legal systems and legal services provision from an international perspective. As one such attempt, the JFBA called on all 52 bar associations across the country to hold an exchange meeting on international activities, entitled “Now is the Time for, Internationalization of Local Areas” in March 2018 and February 2019, where views on issues in promoting internationalization in bar associations were exchanged. In the questionnaire conducted to all bar associations during the 2018 exchange meeting, 29 bar associations answered that “There is an opinion that legal support for foreign residents is necessary,” with 18 bar associations answering that “There is an opinion that it is necessary to respond to cases of overseas expansion by domestic companies”, 32 answering, “There is a committee dealing with international matters”, and 25 answering, “We have interacted with foreign bar associations in the past five years.” At the same time, it is highlighted that local bar associations are currently experiencing barriers to internationalization.


Therefore, the JFBA recognizes the significance and the necessity of international activities in local bar associations and will share information and know-how on international activities with all the bar associations, The JFBA will support the efforts of the bar associations and attorneys across the country so that enhanced legal services can be provided to foreign nationals and companies in their respective areas. Also, the JFBA will develop its organization in order to provide more effective support according to the actual situations and legal needs of each region when local bar associations interact with overseas law societies and attorneys, or when they try to promote international activities of SMEs.



IX. Conclusion

Although this declaration has focused on expanding of legal services required in globalization and internationalization and improving access thereto, as stated in the fundamental purposes of the Mission Statement on International Affairs, there are numerous challenges such as the continuation and promotion of international judicial support (support for the development of legal systems), development of attorneys working in the area of international public service, attorney’s work in the international community, examination of the role of bar associations, and active involvement in making international rules.


The JFBA is determined to continue its activities to achieve the fundamental purposes set forth in the Mission Statement on International Affairs, in collaboration with bar associations, etc. to strengthen its efforts outlined in this declaration and be more proactive in expanding legal services required in globalization and internationalization and improving access thereto.