Getting Free Legal Consultation In Japan
In times of difficulty, it is crucial to seek good advice, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the Japanese legal system. Here are some tips on how to use legal services in Japan, where you will be able to get the English-language advice that you really need.
If you're facing a legal issue, getting a lawyer's help is almost always a good idea, but legal services aren't cheap. In Japan, the national and local tiers of government offer a range of free counseling services to foreign nationals in several languages, including English.
Immigration Information Centers
The Immigration Bureau of Japan operates a number of regional Immigration Information Centers that you can call for general information and "one-stop" information centers in Tokyo "Shinjuku", Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Sendai, and Fukuoka.
These centers can offer advice on a variety of issues, 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
Consult the Justice Ministry's Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreign Residents if you believe your human rights have been infringed as a result of bullying, discrimination, defamation, or concerns about your online privacy. This service is free and provided in several languages.
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 & Welfare
If you work in Japan, you are protected by Japanese Labor Law.
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.
For foreign workers, a telephone consultation service is available in five languages: English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Tagalog. The service will address issues relating to working conditions by outlining the law and providing recommendations to relevant organizations.
Government Employment Service Centers For Foreigners
Local municipalities offer consultation services at no cost. Foreigners who want to work in Japan can get information and advice on recruiting from the Employment Service Center for Foreigners, which is "under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare." The center also provides information on jobs or offers guidance on how to apply for residency in Japan.
The 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 "Hoterasu"
You qualify for free legal consultation from the Japan Legal Support Center if your income is below a certain level. The JLSC is a public institution that provides information on legal paths relevant to your inquiry and, if necessary, will direct you to an appropriate organization that offers more specialized services.
Civil Legal Aid assists people who are in financial difficulty when they become involved in legal proceedings. Such individuals include Japanese citizens and foreigners who are legally residing in Japan.
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 if a lawyer has a contract with the Japan Legal Support Center and is willing to take on legal-aid cases. Even if you do not have legal residency, you may be eligible to receive legal aid in some cases.
Local Bar Associations
If you are interested in retaining a lawyer, with a quick search on the internet, you can find a number of English-speaking attorneys at private firms.
In case you do not know any English-speaking attorneys, there are a number of Local Bar Associations that offer foreigners legal advice in Japanese for 5,500 yen for 30 minutes with no charge for interpretation.
Free counseling might be available for those who have no or low income. 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
Regardless of your status of residence, if you are detained by the police for whatever reason, you are entitled to consult a lawyer. People arrested will not be allowed to contact anyone they know.
In a situation like this, you just need to tell a police officer: please call the Duty Attorney, "tōban bengoshi", and ask them to call a lawyer. The police or court will contact the nearest local bar association, and a lawyer will come to see you. If you do not speak Japanese, the lawyer will bring an interpreter. The first time a duty attorney is called, there is no charge at all.
Without police officers present, a duty attorney interviews you in a police holding cell, informs you of your rights and the next steps, and contacts your family.
Note that a friend or family member of the person who is detained can also make a direct call to the local bar association and request that they send a lawyer.