Japanese Judiciary System

A basic understanding of how the justice works in a country may help you better plan for contingencies when doing business in this country

The judicial system of Japan can be classified into:

  • The Supreme Court
  • High Courts
  • District Courts
  • Family Courts
  • Summary Courts

Apart from these courts, the judicial system constitutes of the judicial conference, which plays the role of drafting new laws and decides about the policies administration policies of different courts.

The Supreme Court of Japan

It is the highest court of Japan with total powers of deciding over the legal matters and administration of the total judiciary system of Japan without any type of interference from any administrative and/or legislative bodies.

The Supreme Court of Japan is located in Tokyo. The Supreme Court has the Grand Bench and the 3 Petty Benches, whose judges together need to form a specific majority to deliver judgment over a legal matter registered with it. There are at least 9 judges in the Grand Bench and 3 in every Petty Bench, which form a quorum. Oral arguments and decisions over them are decided by Grand Bench with 15 judges or Petty Benches, each having 5 judges.

Every legal matter with the Supreme Court, which is generally an appeal against the lower court decision, is first presented in front of any 1 of the 3 Petty Benches. If the Petty Bench finds any discrepancy related to the harm of constitutional rights and misuse of law, then the legal matter is further kept in front of the Grand Bench.

High Courts of Japan

There are 8 high courts in Japan in all. The territories of these courts have been defined and the legal matters restricted to these territories only are heard in that specific high court. The high courts of Japan are located in cities such as:

  • Fukuoka
  • Hiroshima
  • Sendai
  • Sapporo
  • Takamatsu
  • Nagoya
  • Osaka
  • Tokyo

Some of these high courts also have branches in their respective territories, which is mainly to reduce the workload at a single location.

The high court has a President with 3 judges working under him and they together decide over criminal and civil legal matters that consist of direct registrations or appeals against decisions in lower courts.

District Courts of Japan

Every sub jurisdictions of Japan has a district court. There are 47 such territories in Japan in all. Only 1 territory out of these, namely Hokkaido, has 4 district courts. Thus, there are 50 district courts in Japan in all.

The district courts decide over both civil and criminal legal matters filed directly with the court. There are 1 – 3 judges with a president rendered judgments over various legal matters.

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