Foreign judgments, whether monetary or non-monetary (e.g. family law matters), are potentially enforceable in Japan.
What the court reviews
The enforcing court is not allowed to review the substance of the foreign judgment. It can only review whether it is satisfied with the requirements under the law (CCP, Article 118). The most problematic requirement is that ‘a guarantee of reciprocity is in place’ between Japan and the jurisdiction. In this regard, the courts have approved of judgments rendered, among other jurisdictions, in England & Wales, Hong Kong, Singapore, the State of New York and the State of California.
The judgment creditor must take two steps to enforce a foreign judgment, namely, (1) applying to the court for an enforcement judgment and (2) applying for enforcement proceedings.
An action seeking an enforcement judgment ((1) above) falls under the jurisdiction of the District Court with jurisdiction over the location of the general venue of the judgment debtor (e.g. the registered address of a debtor company). Compulsory enforcement proceedings ((2) above) are the same as for domestic judgments, which only take a matter of days.
Applications for both an enforcement judgment and enforcement proceedings are made with notice and will usually take between 6 months to a year. The limitation period is 10 years from the day after the foreign judgment has become final and binding.
The court filing fee for an application to enforce a judgment depends on the claim’s value (see the court filing fee schedule). The court filing fee for an application of enforcement proceedings is ¥4,000 per claim. Postage expenses of ¥6000 are also required to deposit.
Depending on the nature of obligations or assets against which compulsory enforcement is implemented, registration fees (e.g. if the asset is real estate) or court enforcement officers (e.g. if the assets are movables) may be payable.
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