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