April marks the start of the year for schools and many companies in Japan — a month when many newcomers from overseas arrive in the country, just in time for the cherry blossom season.
If you are one of these new arrivals, a lot will be fresh and unfamiliar, and that, unfortunately, applies to the problems you may face as well as the positive aspects of your new life here. Even long-term residents are not immune to complications related to their visa status, work, money, family and so on.
Immigration Information Centers
These centers can offer advice on a variety of issues, and not just those related to immigration. Information is given over the phone or by direct visit in various languages including English, Korean, Chinese and Spanish.
Ministry of Justice
A phone number is available for those who are unable to speak Japanese fluently. In addition, human rights counseling services in English and Chinese on the Internet are in place, enabling you to get counseling anywhere in Japan.
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
If you have problems with wage payments, unfair dismissal or other employment-related issues, you can find information and advice at your nearest Labor Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare which is responsible for maintaining work standards in Japan.
A "Telephone Consultation Service for Foreign Workers", is available in five languages "English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalog". The service will address problems with respect to work conditions by explaining laws and making referrals to concerned organizations.
Government Employment Service Centers For Foreigners
Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners’ Website might come in handy, as it shows available consultation services in Tokyo at national, regional and local levels. They also publish a very useful handbook for Foreign Workers in Japan. To save time, call them in advance; there are Two Employment Centers for foreigners in Tokyo "Shinjuku".
You can receive such services in Osaka Employment Service Center for Foreigners and Nagoya Employment Service Center for Foreigners as well.
Yokohama Counseling Services for Foreign Residents also offers free advisory services for working conditions and other general daily life issues.
Japan Legal Support Center "JLSC"
Civil Legal Aid provides support for people having financial difficulties when they get into legal trouble. The people include Japanese citizens and foreign nationals with mid- to long-term residential status.
If you can satisfy certain means-test criteria, you can receive a legal-aid loan to retain a lawyer for civil and family cases. Legal aid is available as long as lawyers are contracted with the Japan Legal Support Center, and provided that they are willing to take on legal-aid cases. Even if you do not have a legitimate residential status, you may still be able to receive legal aid in some cases.
Tokyo Public Law Office
To make an appointment for consultation you can Call or Send An E-mail.
Local Bar Associations
If you do not know any English speaking lawyers, there are several Local Bar Associations that provide legal counseling in Japanese for foreigners at 5,400 yen for 30 minutes with free interpretation.
Some even provide a completely free service "usually for those who have no incomes or low incomes". You can call the number: 0570-783-100 from anywhere in Japan, and make an appointment at the nearest Local Bar Association.
About Duty Attorney System "In Criminal Cases"
In such a situation, you simply need to tell a police officer to call the Duty Attorney "tōban bengoshi" and the officer will contact a local bar association and get them to call a lawyer. The lawyer will bring an interpreter if you do not speak Japanese. A duty attorney interviews you at the police holding cell without the presence of police officers, explains about your right and the future procedures and also makes contact with your family.
A family member or friend of the arrested individual can also call a local bar association directly and ask them to send a lawyer.