This article will provide guidance on how the central authority works in Japan.  The Hague Service Convention, a treaty governing the international service of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters, is among the most popular international instruments now used to service documents. Japan has committed to respond to requests from other signatories to the Hague Service Convention for the service of papers about civil or commercial actions. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal can be exceedingly helpful in serving your papers across international borders. Click Here for information on the Code of Civil Procedure in Japan.

The foreign court must serve the defendant in Japan with the necessary judicial papers, including a complaint if the action is launched against a Japanese firm without any subsidiaries or commercial offices in the foreign state. However, such delivery of foreign judicial papers comes under the exercise of jurisdiction, which can only be carried out by a foreign court in Japan with judicial aid. Undisputed Legal is committed to serving your papers quickly and efficiently. Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

Court system in Japan 

All judges shall be independent in exercising their conscience and shall be bound only by this constitution, and the Law’  is a constitutional provision in Japan’s judicial system. The entire court structure is based on the independence of judges. As such, our Undisputed Legal process servers always adhere to the rules of the specific court for process. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

The importance of wakai settlements reached via mutual agreement of the parties, without a clear victor or loser, is a defining characteristic of Japanese courts. The inquisitorial legal system of France and Germany, which gained influence in Japan around 1890, placed the burden of proof on the judiciary and the prosecution. The adversarial system in the United States impacted Japan’s judicial system after 1948. Click here for How the Hague Convention Simplifies International Process Service.

Japan’s judicial system is structured with four levels. The four hundred and thirty-eight summary courts (kan’i saibansho), the first level of the four-tiered judicial system, are manned by over eight hundred judges. Small claims, civil matters (disputes not exceeding ¥1,400,000), and minor criminal offenses are mostly dealt with by them. In summary courts, a single judge serves as chairperson. A district court hears appeals from summary court civil matters, while a high court hears appeals from criminal cases.

Located at the second level are the primary courts of the first instance, the district courts (chihō saibansho). The capitals of the prefectures each have fifty district courts. A three-judge panel is necessary for trials, except for small matters. These entities are the chief court of first instance and the courts of broad jurisdiction. In felonies or civil disputes involving sums over ¥1,400,000, the initial jurisdiction is with the district courts. Bankruptcy hearings are under their purview as well. At least one judge rules over each trial in the District Court. 

The term ‘Kōtō saibansho’ refers to the eight regional high courts. Additionally, there are ‘branch offices’ in Akita, Kanazawa, Okayama, Matsue, Miyazaki, and Naha. In addition to the Tokyo High Court, there is also the Intellectual Property High Court (Chiteki-zaisan kōtō saibansho) in Tokyo. A three-judge district court is the typical seating arrangement for a high court. The Cabinet chooses the President of each court. In civil disputes, first heard in summary courts, the high courts hear second (jōkoku) appeals restricted to legal matters. They also hear kōso appeals from district court judgments and criminal judgments from summary courts. Among process servers, Undisputed Legal is a major participant on a worldwide scale. In the past, we have served documents across Japan, and our local process servers ensure each prefecture is served according to the prevailing court system. You may trust that you will get the highest quality service from us because of our extensive background in conducting process service.  Click here for information on How To Identify A Good Process Service Agency

Understanding the Central Authority in Japan

The  Ministry of Foreign Affairs is Japan’s central authority. The Consular Policy Division, Consular Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo addresses international service of papers.  The forwarding authority for the service of Hague Convention papers is the judges. The Minister of Foreign Affairs specifies the need for the appropriate court to hear the case. Next, service may be completed by a marshal or the special postal service, with the postal official preparing a report of service. The service of documents is subject to the local norms of procedure in Japan.  Our Undisputed Legal process servers maintain excellent ties with court officials there. So, by the Hague Service Convention, we endeavor to speedily serve documents in the area. Click here for information on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.

The Minister for Foreign Affairsppropriate court clerk refers to the a as the recipient of the transmitted papers. After being notified by the court clerk of the papers that need to be served, the addressee can either personally appear before the court or ask for them to be delivered.

When asked for, a marshal will verify the addressee’s identity and then do service by delivering the document straight to that individual. Any document to be served under Article 5(1)(a)(b) requires a full translation.  In theory, there are no fees for the applicant as the National Treasury pays for the service. On the other hand, if a marshal is to serve the papers, their fees have to be paid. With that in mind, the certificate is sent to the applicant, and a bill of the expenses is to be recovered by the court that performed the service.

Japan abides by applicable domestic legislation, namely the Act Relating to the Reciprocal Legal Aid to be given at the request of Foreign Courts when a state that is not a signatory to these Conventions requests Japan’s legal aid. Japanese courts are required by this act to help foreign courts serve papers and other legal processes upon request, as long as the request is made via diplomatic channels.  To simplify this process, a private process service agency like those at Undisputed Legal can provide invaluable service.  Click here for information on How Process Servers Protect Your Rights: Myths Debunked

What does the Ministry of foreign affairs do?

Japan’s foreign policy and international relations are overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an executive branch of the Japanese government. Jointly enacted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Establishment Act and the National Government Organisation Act, the Ministry’s mission is stated as ‘to aim at the improvement of the profits of Japan and Japanese nationals while contributing to the maintenance of peaceful and safe international society, and, through an active and eager measure, both to implement good international environment and to keep and develop harmonic foreign relationships.

The prime minister has the last say on matters of significant foreign policy since they are the top executive and the most powerful person in the political system according to the constitution. The cabinet member responsible for foreign affairs serves as the prime minister’s principal advisor on strategic and operational issues. Two vice-ministers assist the minister: one is responsible for administration and is the senior career official at the top of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hierarchy, and the other is in charge of political relations with the Diet. Directors of the many regional and functional bureaus within the Ministry are another important post, as are members of the Ministry’s Secretariat, which contains sections dealing with emigration, communications, cultural exchange, and consular affairs.. Yōko Kamikawa is currently serving as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

process Service of foreign papers in  Japan

Article 5(1) of the Hague Service Convention lays forth two options for serving documents [A.] according to the judicial system of Japan and [B.] according to the applicant’s preference. Usually, service can be done according to the applicant’s requirements; however, violation of Japanese law cannot be accepted in international service of papers.  A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal, which is well-versed in the service of international documents, should be engaged to prevent documents from being struck down.

Requests to have court documents served in Japan may be made to the central authority by the relevant authorities or judicial officers of a contracting state to the Hague Service. To receive requests for assistance, Japan’s top authority has been designated as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Japan (‘MOFA’). Only requests submitted in English, French, or Japanese will be considered.

The document is sent to a district court in Japan with authority over the addressee; after that, it is sent to the Supreme Court of Japan. The district court will use tokubetsu-sotatsu, a unique kind of court-mediated service by mail, to serve documents when they are complaints.  A certificate of service is sent back to the requesting authority over the same channels after the service is implemented. When serving a document becomes impossible, a certificate detailing the reasons for the inability to serve has to be completed. We keep you in the loop at Undisputed Legal for your process service documents. We ensure that you never have to worry about where your documents are at any time.

From the moment the requesting state submits its request to MOFA until it receives the service result, it usually takes about four months for foreign proceedings to be served in Japan effectively under the Hague Service Convention. For any document to be delivered in Japan, the MOFA insists on including complete Japanese translations. In addition, a court document may be served by delivery to an addressee who willingly receives it, with or without its entire translation, according to Art. 5(2) of the Hague Service Convention. In such a situation, the district court clerk will send a regular mail notice to the addressee, who may either come to the courthouse in person or designate a representative to do so or ask the court to send the document. The informal or voluntary service is only accepted if the addressee replies to the court within three weeks of the notice date.

There is no way to get direct assistance in Japan via mail and diplomatic or consular channels. Legal papers may be served directly via diplomatic or consular representatives according to Article 8 of the Hague Service Convention unless the signatory nation has objected. Japan has raised this particular objection.  Some foreign courts have construed Art. 10(a) of the Hague Service Convention as including service of process, which allows for sending judicial papers by mail unless the signatory nation has expressed objections to such service.

Nevertheless, Article 8 and Article 10(a) of the Hague Service Convention have been vehemently opposed by Japan. Therefore, the Hague Service Convention mandates that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) serve the legal process in Japan. Retaining a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal can be exceedingly helpful for service in Japan. 

process Service for United States Plaintiffs

If a foreign court’s judgment meets the standards of the Code of Civil Procedure (‘CCP’), it may be recognized in Japan as valid.  Pursuing an enforcement judgment in a Japanese court is the first step in petitioning for compulsory enforcement, which is necessary to make a foreign judgment enforceable. For a foreign court’s final and binding judgment to be legitimate in Japan, it must fulfill all of the standards outlined in the CCP. Among the prerequisites is that the defendant must have been served with the summons or order required to initiate the lawsuit (not including service by publishing or other methods.) We at Undisputed Legal have the necessary expertise to ensure that your papers adhere to the requirements of both Japanese and United States service procedures.

Direct mail service is no longer an option in Japan, and complete Japanese translations of complaints and summons are required for official service under Art—5 (1) of the Hague Service Convention.  Effective serving of process is a primary obstacle that a U.S. plaintiff encounters while suing a defendant based in Japan. The lawsuit can be thrown off track before it even begins because default judgments in Japan are not enforceable unless the required paperwork is filed. Place your documents in the hands of a trustworthy process server, like our local process servers at Undisputed Legal.

To ensure the papers have been translated accurately, the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Supreme Court of Japan and the Consular Affairs Bureau of MOFA will examine each page separately. The request will be rejected and returned by MOFA if they discover any problems. Four to six months after the request arrives at MOFA, service is often completed due to this lengthy assessment procedure. The official signature and stamp of the governing body or court official authorized by the laws of the issuing state must be provided.  Originality of signature or official stamp is required. No reproduction can be tolerated. All service requests must include a completed summary of the documents to be served to be processed.

After MOFA has reviewed the papers, the postal worker will pass them over to the recipient, completing the service that requires a required receipt. The usual procedure for serving a corporate defendant in Japan is to designate one of the directors with the authority to represent the company as the addressee on the request. It is common practice for postal carriers to deliver papers to receptionists or mailroom clerks rather than the representative director. If the defendant’s workers refuse to accept, the postal worker can leave the papers at the indicated site. However, the service attempt will be unsuccessful if a defendant does not have a manned office or postal employees cannot enter its premises.

The Japanese Supreme Court ruled that non-conventional service forms do not constitute effective service, rendering foreign judgments unenforceable in Japanese courts unless the defendant who lost was a party to the original case abroad. Therefore, service should be sought by the Convention if the plaintiff depends on the enforcement of the judgment in Japan and the defendant is unlikely to appear in the litigation.

To have civil or commercial trial papers served by Japan’s central authority (MOFA), any Contracting State to the Service Convention may do the following:  The request to serve the papers should be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan by the relevant authority or competent judicial official in the State of origin (Article 3 of the Service Convention). The party must request paperwork for serving papers by the central authority (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and attach two copies of the request (which includes the ‘Summary of the document’) and the certificate that complies with the Service Convention’s appendices. Two copies of each legal document (complaint, judgment, summons, etc.) must be served with two translated versions of the papers translated into Japanese.

Civil procedure in Japan

In civil or criminal proceedings, a court must assist another court in serving documents or accepting evidence when asked by a foreign court.  This judicial assistance is to be provided by the District Court, which has authority over the location where the necessary procedures are to be conducted.  Service is done using the diplomatic route. The request must be in writing to have documents served on someone, including their name, nationality, and where they live. A written request to take evidence must be submitted, including the parties involved in the action, the method of evidence collection, the identity, nationality, and place of residence of the witness or defendant to be questioned, and the specific issues that need to be examined. An explanation of the key facts of the case must accompany the request in criminal situations.

If the Japanese Courts so require, the court requesting the assistance may guarantee that it could provide judicial help in the same or comparable cases from its home state.  The terms of any applicable treaties or comparable instruments shall take precedence. If a court other than the one to which the request was submitted has jurisdiction over executing the letter of request, the other court will transfer it to the correct court.

The first step in starting a civil lawsuit is for the plaintiff to submit a formal complaint document to the court with authority over the matter. The goal of a claim is the same as the conclusion of a complaint; it is the judgment that the plaintiff is striving for, like a certain sum of money or the removal of a specific piece of real estate. The claim statement contains the necessary details to determine the plaintiff’s claim’s legal foundation. In addition to the predicted concerns, a complaint must include the circumstances that gave birth to the claim. Furthermore, the plaintiff must provide copies of relevant documentary proof and a fiscal stamp equal to the filing fee specified by law with the complaint.

When the presiding judge notices an issue with the parties’ specifications, the claim’s object or statement, or the filing fee’s adequacy, they will set a reasonable deadline and instruct the plaintiff to fix the problem within that deadline. Failure to do so will result in the presiding court dismissing the complaint and ending the matter. Alternatively, if the plaintiff does not adequately fix the deficiency, the presiding judge will order the plaintiff to do so again. If the presiding judge thinks the plaintiff needs to fix anything, he or she may tell the court clerk to remind them.
Defendants must provide written responses upon receipt of the complaint and the writ of summons. To respond to a claim in writing, you must address its purpose. The defendant’s standard response to a plaintiff’s action or claim is to ask for dismissal.  In addition, the defendant has to make it clear whether they’re admitting or denying the allegations made in the complaint.

The defendant is required to explain when contesting the facts. Also, the written response must include relevant facts and proof pertaining to those facts and the particular facts necessary to disprove the plaintiff’s claims. Just as the plaintiff must provide copies of relevant documents with their complaint, the defendant must do the same with their written response. Our Undisputed Legal process servers are local to Japan and can serve papers as required nationwide.

Notary Public in Japan

The Director of the (district) Legal Affairs Bureau to which the notary public is affiliated must certify the notary public’s seal before any notarial document issued by the notary public can be legally binding. In some prefectures, the director may provide a notarial document and a notary public seal certificate. These papers should be taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get them authenticated or apostilled. Legalization must be obtained from the appropriate Japanese Embassy or Consulate (General) to receive an authentication.

 Obtaining a certificate of notary public seal from the District Legal Affairs Bureau is important if the destination agency requires certification by the Embassy or Consulate-General of Japan in the destination countries rather than authentication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Japanese Embassy and Consulate-General cannot certify papers that have already been authenticated or apostilled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot vouch for papers the Japanese Embassy or Consulate-General validates.

A notary public in Japan cannot attest to the authenticity of any official document issued by a government agency. Witnesses other than a Notary should be brought if the document to be authenticated or notarized necessitates their presence. Notaries may notarize private papers in any language; however, they commonly need a Japanese translation of the documents.

The Minister of Justice appoints a public official to perform the function of notarization; this person is often associated with the Legal Affairs Bureau or a District Legal Affairs Bureau.  Doing notarial deeds, authenticating private papers and articles of incorporation, and appending properly certified dates are all part of a notary’s responsibilities.  Any individual qualified to serve as a public prosecutor, attorney, or judge or any individual chosen by the Notary Selection Committee with academic and practical abilities comparable to those professionals and who has been involved in legal activities for many years may be a notary. With the issuance of the Notary Rule in 1886, Japan’s notary system came into being.

Notaries can draft formal documents in compliance with the law; one such document is a notarial deed. These documents are official and highly persuasive, so they can seize a debtor’s property, personal belongings, and other assets in Japan even before a court ruling is made if they default on a debt. Wills and will deeds can be notarized as well as transactions involving loans of money (notarial deeds) and notarial documents about the settlement of claims for emotional distress or child support in a divorce.

The will of an expat living in Japan is legally binding in Japan if a notary public notarizes it and follows Japanese law. Wills and inheritance regulations in Japan will take precedence over those in the person’s home country unless the laws of that country permit the application of Japanese law. At Undisputed Legal, we provide service across the globe and can ensure your papers are taken care of regardless of where the state of origin is.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) must be followed to obtain the notarized signature on a confidential document at a notary public office. Parties must bring the document(s) that need authentication, either a passport, a valid driver’s license, or the Basic Resident Register Card.

As a last step, clients must swear before a notary public that everything in the confidential document is accurate. The act of perjury will result in the imposition of sanctions. In certain cases, private papers that must be notarized by a notary public and signed by the person seeking public office in a foreign nation may be required. The typical practice is to get further verification from the Director of the Legal Affairs Bureau (District Legal Affairs Bureau) to which the notary is affiliated, confirming that the notary was the one who authenticated the private document. This is done after the first authentication from the notary has been received. Afterwards, the Director of the Legal Affairs Bureau’s official seal is attested to by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Lastly, the certification (called ‘consular authentication’) is made by the consulate of the nation to whom the papers will be given in Japan.

A party may delegate authority to another person or entities to handle their financial and asset matters by signing a Power of Attorney. An individual may have someone appointed by the court to handle financial matters, or they may be bestowed this power by a government agency. 

Effective service of legal documents across international boundaries is essential. When exporting legal documents to other nations, every single one of our staff members at Undisputed Legal is an expert. You can always count on us to provide top-notch document service. Despite the potential complexity, we simplify the legal service process in Japan. Our primary goal at Undisputed Legal is to ensure that all documents are prepared and distributed in the local language accurately and culturally sensitively. No matter where you are, we can help you with document serving. If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.


Documents can be faxed at (800)-296-0115, emailed to, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist receives all documents.


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Pick up the phone and call Toll-Free (800) 774-6922 or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to help you out. We can handle all your Japan process service needs; every job is just a little small! Click Here for information on How To Serve Legal Papers in Japan!

Please feel free to contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A


1. The following cities—Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, and Fukuoka—serve specific prefectural areas.

2.  2-2-1 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku, TOKYO,

 100-8919, Japan.

+81 3 5501 8152, +81 3 5501 8148,

3. As outlined in Article 49 of the Mail Act

4. The postal officer is required to create a delivery report under Article 49 of the Mail Act.

5. The amount due for a marshal’s services is 1,800 yen during business hours on weekdays or 4,200 yen during the night, weekends, or holiday service, in addition to 37 yen per kilometer for the marshal’s travel expenses from the competent district court to which they belong.

6. Law Relating To The Reciprocal Judicial Aid To Be Given At The Request Of Foreign Courts

Law No. 63 of the 38th year of Meiji (13th March 1905), as amended by Law No. 7 of The 45th year of Meiji(29th March 1912) and by Law No. 17 of the 13th year of Showa

7. National Government Organization Act (Act No. 120 of July 10, 1948)

8. This is done in accordance with the provisions of Article 103, paragraph 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP).

9. The law that was passed on March 13, 1905, as revised by the 45th year of Meiji (March 29, 1912) and the 13th year of Showa (March 22, 1938), is known as Law No. 63.

10. Saitama, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Nagano, and Niigata

11. When applicants visit the notary public’s offices in Hokkaido, Miyagi, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Osaka, or Fukuoka, they can get a notarial document, a certificate of the notary public’s seal from the director of the (district) legal affairs bureau, and an authentication or apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs all at once.

12. According to the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, often known as the Apostille Convention, apostille can only be provided for private papers.

13. It should be mentioned that the Notaries Act 1908 and accompanying legislative instruments were changed, and that notaries have already been using electronic authentication for articles of incorporation and private papers since 2002.

14. Notaries’ responsibilities expanded in 1938 to include attesting to the validity of a company’s articles of incorporation. The practice of using sworn declarations, or affidavits, to verify the authenticity of personal papers began in 1996. In 2000, more powers were granted for electronic notarization, which now includes the ability to electronically authenticate confidential papers and assign an electronically certified date. Electronic certification of articles of incorporation was included in this in 2002.


The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.