An attorney-at-law is a legal expert who is entrusted with the mission of protecting the fundamental human rights of people and achieving social justice. The duties of an attorney-at-law, upon request of others, shall be to engage in acts relating to lawsuits; cases not involving litigation; objections, appeals and other petitions against administrative agencies; and other general legal services.
Attorneys-at-law come under the supervision of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and local bar associations to which they belong and do not come under the supervision of any administrative agency of the government.
Attorney Certification System
In order to obtain the qualification of an attorney-at-law, a person is required to complete the legal apprentice training course after passing the national bar examination in principle.
As an exception, the qualification of an attorney-at-law is given through the Attorney Certification System, approved by the Minister of Justice, to those who have acquired a certain level of actual legal business experience in corporate enterprises after passing the national bar examination.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for work concerning the certification of qualifications for attorney-at-law.
The Gaikokuho-Jimu-Bengoshi (Gaiben) system is designed to permit persons qualified as lawyers in foreign states to handle specific legal business in Japan as a Gaiben, without taking any qualification examination anew.
To become “Gaiben”, the qualified foreign lawyers must be approved by the Minister of Justice in accordance with the “Act on Special Measures Concerning the Handling of Legal Services by Foreign Lawyers,” also they must be registered on the Roll of Registered Foreign Lawyers kept by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for work concerning the approval of qualifications for Gaiben.
Claim Management and Collection Companies (Servicers)
As an exception to the Attorney Act, in order to promote the disposal of non-performing loans and thereby contribute to the sound development of the national economy, the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Claims Servicing Business (Servicer Act; Act No. 126 of 1998) was enforced on February 1, 1999.
Servicers licensed by the Minister of Justice are allowed to manage and collect specified monetary claims provided for by the Servicer Act.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for examining and screening these servicers on giving approval and license as well as for supervising them to ensure appropriate operation by conducting on-site inspections etc.
Certified Dispute Resolution Business Operators
The Act on Promotion of Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, enforced on April 1, 2007, has introduced a system in which the Minister of Justice certifies private dispute resolution services (conciliation and intercession services performed by private businesses on a civil dispute), when recognized as proper, satisfying the statutory criteria and requirements.
Certified dispute resolution business operators (private businesses certified by the Minister of Justice) are engaged in resolving disputes, utilizing their professional knowledge and experiences, in order to accurately meet the diverse needs of the people.
The number of certified dispute resolution business operators increased from 10 in FY 2007 when the system was launched to over 130 in FY 2014. The fields of disputes handled have become more diversified and the accessibility to the system has been further improved.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for work concerning the certification of private dispute resolution services.
Judicial scriveners are legal experts who contribute to protecting rights and benefits of the people; they engage in registration procedures of immovable property and commercial/corporation on behalf of the client as well as in preparation of documents for the court. Since 2003, judicial scriveners, certified by the Minister of Justice after completing the designated training course, have been able to engage in civil procedures on behalf of clients at summary courts. Furthermore, since 2006, they have been able to undertake proceedings as representatives in identifying registered ground sections within a certain range.
The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the judicial scriveners system.
Land and House Investigators
The land and house investigators contribute to the clarification of rights of the people related to real estates. They take charge of necessary investigation, survey, and application procedures on registering real estates on behalf of a client. From 2006, the land and house investigators, approved by the Minister of Justice by completing a certain training course to act as agents in proceedings to identify registered ground sections, are able to undertake proceedings for solving civil disputes that originate from unclear registered ground sections; the dispute resolution business operators who engage in the proceedings must be designated by the Minister of Justice and the operations are to be carried out jointly with attorneys-at-law.
The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the land and house investigators system.