Hito o shinjiyo, shikashi, sono hyaku-bai mo mizukara o shinjiyo


Japan is an archipelago, or string of islands, on the eastern edge of Asia. It consists of a great string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 km) through the western North Pacific Ocean. Nearly the entire land area is taken up by the country’s four main islands; from north to south these are Hokkaido (Hokkaidō), Honshu (Honshū), Shikoku, and Kyushu (Kyūshū). Honshu is the largest of the four, followed in size by Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. In addition, there are numerous smaller islands, the major groups of which are the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands (including the island of Okinawa) to the south and west of Kyushu and the Izu, Bonin (Ogasawara), and Volcano (Kazan) islands to the south and east of central Honshu. The national capital, Tokyo (Tōkyō), in east-central Honshu, is one of the world’s most populous cities.

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, but the power of the Emperor (Tennō) is limited. According to the constitution of 1947, Japan is a parliamentary democracy.
The ceremonial head of state is the emperor; he appoints the Prime Minister, the head of the government of Japan. The legislature consists of a two-chamber parliament (National Diet). The Shugiin, the House of Representatives is the lower house, which is re-elected every four years. The Sangiin (the House of Councilors) is the upper house of the National Diet, its members all serve six-year terms. Japan is the third largest economy in the world and is known for market leaders and important players in the automotive, electronics and other manufacturing industries. Japan is also known for everything from onsen hot springs and kabuki baths (dating to the 6th and 16th centuries, respectively) to all-night neon-lit dance parties, anime, and sushi boat restaurants, all of which are decidedly more modern.

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The modern Japanese legal system is based on the civil law system, following the model of 19th Century European legal systems, especially the legal codes of Germany and France. Japan established its legal system when imperial rule to Japan was restored in 1868 as part of the Meiji Restoration. From the perspective of the rules and institutions of private law, the Japanese legal system remains closer to the civil law of Europe than to the common law of the United States. In many ways, nevertheless, the Japanese legal order differs markedly from all Western legal orders. The court system in Japan consists of summary courts, district courts, family courts, high courts and the Supreme Court of Japan. There is no federal system, and all courts are unified under the Supreme Court of Japan.

Intellectual Property in Japan

In Japan, the most common types of intellectual property rights are patent rights, utility model rights, design rights, trademark rights and copyrights. Patent is one of the most important forms of protection available. The Japan Patent Office (JPO) is the Japanese government agency responsible for granting trademark, patent, utility model and design rights. The agency is composed of a number of departments, including the Trademark, Design and Administrative Affairs Department. If you do not have an existing business entity in Japan, you will be required to obtain the services of a local IP expert to conduct any procedures with the JPO. In addition to helping you with the IP processes, experts can also assist in understanding local culture to prevent misunderstandings that could become obstacles for businesses expanding into Japan. Applications for IP rights can be filed electronically through the JPO website. A good first step is to search existing IP to check whether your anticipated IP use may conflict with or infringe on someone’s prior rights.

Patent in Japan

In Japan, an invention meets the patentability requirement if it was created with the use of technical concepts and the laws of nature. The patent must also be industrially applicable. There are 2 ways to file an application: send it directly to the JPO or apply through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Applications that are filed in English must include a Japanese translation. The translation must be sent within a month of the submission of the initial application. A request for examination must be filed within 3 years from the initial application filing date. The request notifies the JPO that the invention is ready for examination. If you fail to send the request within that time, the application will be considered withdrawn. In Japan, patent protection generally lasts for up to 20 years from the filing date. However, the term of protection for patent applications relating to agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals may be extended for an additional 5 years. Japan has a “first-to-file” patent system, meaning that a patent is granted to the first person who files for patent protection. Applicants can use the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) to speed up the examination process for corresponding patent applications filed in Japan.

Trademark in Japan

In Japan, a trademark is any character, figure, sign, 3-dimensional shape, sound or colour, or any combination thereof, that is used in connection with a person or company’s goods or services. Japan follows a “first-to-file” system for trademark rights. This means that whoever registers a trademark first holds the exclusive right to the use of the trademark. Foregoing trademark registration in Japan may leave a business vulnerable to the risk of others registering the trademark. A trademark can be filed directly with the JPO or through the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks. In Japan, a trademark is registered for 10 years and can be renewed every 10 years. If you are not regularly using your trademark in the Japanese marketplace, it may be subject to a dispute or challenged for non-use. Cancellation of trademark registration may be requested if the trademark is not used for more than 3 consecutive years.

Industrial design in Japan

In Japan, a design is any shape, pattern or colour of an article, or any combination of those. A design must be new and innovative in its form. Ensure that you do not publish or disclose your design before filing an application, because once a design is disclosed to the public, it may be deemed as non-novel and barred from being registered. In the event that a design has been publicly disclosed before filing, the applicant may be entitled to a 1-year grace period under certain circumstances. In Japan, designs are granted on a “first to file” principle. Under this principle, if multiple design applications for an identical or a similar design are filed on different dates, only the earlier application is entitled to registration. Some designs, such as those that go against public order or those deemed immoral by the JPO, cannot be registered. In Japan, designs are protected for 20 years from the registration date, with no option for extension.
Applications must be made directly with the JPO or through the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs.

Copyright in Japan

Japan adopted its first modern copyright statute in 1899 and joined the Berne Convention in the same year. This statute, as revised from time to time, remained in effect for 70 years. As the technology of reproduction and communication progressed, however, pressure for major revision intensified, and ultimately the current Japanese Copyright Law was approved in 1970.Among other changes, the 1970 Law divided the panoply of author’s rights into moral rights and economic rights, extended copyright protection to broadcasting and phonograms, increased the period of protection, created a number of specific fair use provisions, and established neighboring rights for performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasting organizations. In Japan, copyright protects original literary, scientific, artistic or musical works in which thoughts or sentiments are expressed in a creative way. Copyrights are automatically granted when content is created. Copyright registration is administered by the Japan Copyright Office. As there is no general ‘fair use’ doctrine in Japan, rather than apply- ing general standards, specific special exemptions set out the terms under which a work may be used legally. Under Japanese law, copyright protection continues “until the end of a period of seventy years following the death of the author” or, in cases where the work bears the name of a corporate body, “until the end of a period of seventy years following the making public of the work.”

IP enforcement in Japan

There are several ways to enforce your rights against unauthorized use of your IP in Japan:
▪ Japan maintains a strong framework of enforcement measures to protect against IP infringement. IP owners can send a warning letter to notify the infringer of their actions. The letter is intended as a first step for IP owners. The optimal result is for the infringer to cease all wrongful actions.
▪ In cases where a warning letter is not sufficient, it may be best to seek legal action.
▪ If you believe your IP rights are being infringed upon in Japan, you should consult a lawyer licensed to practise in Japan or an IP professional to discuss the next steps.
▪ IP right holders can request a provisional injunction to prevent infringing acts from continuing until the case is resolved.
▪ In 2016, Japan established the Intellectual Property High Court to shorten the duration of civil procedures related to IP.
▪ The Japan Customs tariff law gives IP owners the option of filing for custom suspension of infringing goods. If the goods are found to be infringing, the company may face a fine of up to USD 100,000.
▪ Japan also provides the option of ADR processes, such as mediation and arbitration. ADR processes are generally more informal, less adversarial, cheaper and settlement-focused. They can be used before or as an alternative to going to court.
▪ Before taking any action, you may wish to consult a qualified IP professional who is familiar with Japan’s legal system to explore the various enforcement mechanisms available.

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Eleven Facts About Japan You Might Not Know

1. Japan is Extremely Clean
Streets in Japan are immaculate; even in Tokyo, the capital, and a massive megacity, all streets are spotless and litter-free. That being said, how does Japan accomplish this? It’s all about their mindset. The Japanese very seldom leave trash on the streets. Additionally, volunteers of all ages clean the streets for the simple reason that they want to live in a tidy city.

2. Tokyo is the World’s Most Populated City
The greater Tokyo metropolitan area encompasses three areas and is home to Japan’s capital, Tokyo. Tokyo is estimated to have 38.14 million, rendering it the world’s most populous megacity.

3. Japan’s population is 98.5 percent Japanese
This may seem absurd, but the modern world is becoming increasingly multicultural. However, this is not the case in Japan. That is largely due to stringent visa requirements and a cultural mindset keeping its distinctive and ancient culture steeped in old traditions.

4. Japan Has Canned Foods Restaurants
Japan is also a great destination for canned food fans, as numerous restaurants and bars specializing in this food culture. Mr. Kanso is the most popular chain of such restaurants. The shelves of these restaurants have a diverse array of canned foods from around the world. The variety on the shelves ensures that even the most discerning guest will find something new to try. And speaking of canned food, Japan is filled with vending machines. You’ll find them everywhere on the streets selling everything from sake and beer to tea and food.

5. Japan Has a High Life Expectancy
Japan is virtually tied with Hong Kong in terms of average life expectancy, at 83.6 years and 84 years. Numerous people attribute Japan’s long life expectancy to the country’s historically healthier diet than Western countries. Their diet includes a greater amount of fish, less red meat and more vegetables, and smaller portions. The Japanese hot springs probably have a lot to do with the long lives in Japan. These hot springs, known as Onsens are frequented by the Japanese for their healing properties.

6. Japan Has Many Active Volcanoes
There is a total sum of 110 active volcanoes in Japan! Scientists track 47 of these active volcanoes due to recent eruptions or an eruption possibility.

7. Each Year There Are Over 1,500 Earthquakes
That is correct! Japan is located on top of or adjacent to four distinct tectonic plates. The Pacific, Eurasian, North American, and Filipino plates are the tectonic plates. (Side note, I’ve actually been in an earthquake in Japan while working years ago in Yokohama. It was scary). Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. Most of these earthquakes are minor and unnoticeable, but large and destructive earthquakes do occur from time to time.

8. Forests Cover 67 % of Japan
When you think of Japan, you’re probably thinking of the country’s numerous cities. Surprisingly, 67 percent of Japan is covered in forest. It is not uncommon to see signs on forest trails warning to look out for black bears. Really? Black bears in Japan?

9. The Japanese are Extremely Attached to Nature

You will find that most Japanese have a profound appreciation and love of nature. That is due to the ingrained spirituality of the Shinto religion. That is one of many Japan facts. The reason is that Shinto followers believe that all of nature, from rivers and mountains to rocks, are possessed by spirits.

10. Japan Is Home to the Deepest Underwater Postbox
A cool Japan fact is that Susami is home to the world’s deepest underwater postbox. Susami is a well-known fishing town in Wakayama Province. The Guinness World Records recognized the town’s deepest underwater postbox in 2002. The postbox is 30 feet underwater and has collected over 32,000 pieces of mail since 1999.

11. Mount Fuji is a Holy Site
Mount Fuji is not only Japan’s highest mountain; it is a sacred site for the Shinto religion since the seventh century. The cool thing is that Princess Konohanasakuya is the Kami (divine person) of Mount Fuji in the Shinto religion. The cherry blossom is her symbol. Even if you are not a follower of the Shinto religion, it is said that you can sense the area’s tranquillity and eerie atmosphere.

Bud & Prairie helps your business navigate Japan’s laws and regulations. Our solutions manage and process your issues, as well as enhance your potentialities. Partnering with Bud & Prairie means a quick, cost-effective, and compliant way to grow at the Japanese market.

Japanese employment and human resources

Japan has a myriad labor laws and regulations intended to protect the rights of workers, executive employees, and business interests. Specific topics for these laws include recruitment; employment contracts; wages, working hours; work rules; workplace safety and hygiene requirements; resignation and dismissal procedures and Japan’s social security, health and pension systems. Japan’s major labor laws include the Labor Standard Act, the Industrial Safety and Health Act, and the Minimum Wage Act. The Labour Standards Act outlines the minimum standards for working conditions. The Industrial Safety and Health Act ensures the safety of health workers in the workplace, and the Minimum Wage Act outline the minimum wage standard for the country. These laws apply to all businesses in Japan, be they foreign or domestic. They also protect foreign workers in Japan as long as they meet the requirements to be defined as workers under these laws.


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📝 Contract Formation and Enforcement in Japan

Japan does not have a separate code of law for contracts to determine what laws govern contracts in Japan. Instead, contract law is governed by various laws contained in the Civil Code, the law of torts, the law of property, the law of succession and family law. Under Japanese law, the principle of freedom of contract is upheld, and a contract is formed based on freedom to offer and freedom to accept. The rules concerning contracts that are contained in the Civil Code are limited to basic rules. Special rules relating to contracts between merchants are prescribed in the Commercial Code. There are also many special laws for purposes such as consumer protection. Beyond this, there are also many statutes to regulate the conduct of business operators. This includes statutes that play a very important role in relation to, for example, the process of contract formation.

📅 Japan public holidays

Date Description
1 Jan New Year’s Day
9 Jan Coming of Age Day
11 Feb National Foundation Day
23 Feb Emperor’s Birthday
21 Mar Spring Equinox
29 Apr Showa Day (Golden Week, GW)
3 May Constitution Memorial Day (GW)
4 May Greenery Day (GW)
5 May Children’s Day (GW)
17 Jul Marine Day
11 Aug Mountain Day
13-16 Aug Obon
18 Sep Respect for the Elderly
23 Sep Autumnal Equinox Day
9 Oct Sports Day
3 Nov Culture Day
23 Nov Labor Thanksgiving Day

🏦 Construction and Projects in Japan

Japan has a long history of striking infrastructure projects. From the Horyu-ji temple, one of the world’s oldest-standing wooden buildings, to the Shinkansen, the first high-speed rail line, Japanese infrastructure development has wielded an outsize influence on international design for a country about half the size of Texas. And Japan has several projects in the works that are pushing the infrastructural envelope in places like Kenya, India, and even the United States. Here are a few of the international infrastructure projects Japan is involved in that could change the shape of the world in years to come:
1. Olkaria Geothermal Power Station, Kenya: $94 million;
2. Chennai Metro Rail Limited, India: $9.8 million;
3. Shinkansen High Speed Rail, Singapore and Malaysia: $17 to $20 billion;
4. Shinkansen, India: $12 billion;
5. Shinkansen, Texas: $300 million;
6. W350 Wooden Skyscraper, Tokyo: $5.6 billion;
7. Tokyo 2020 National Olympic Stadium: $1.26 billion;
8. Tokyo 2045: TBD (Architects from Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Leslie E. Robertson Associates created a vision for Tokyo in 2045. The design includes hexagonal pads in Tokyo Bay to break up storm surges and the Sky Mile Tower, a mile-high building — that’s twice as high as the Burj Khalifa — that would provide housing for as many as 55,000 residents).

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    Why choose Bud & Prairie?

    Bud & Prairie offers a full complement of services in all areas of IP law and other legal practices, including without limitation patents; trademarks; copyrights; industrial designs; IP litigation; anti-counterfeiting and enforcement; and licensing, due diligence, and contract review. Our strong technique fields include bio-chemistry, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, superconductor devices and systems, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, electronics, computer software, telecommunications, information technology, communications, media, construction.

    Bud & Prairie boasts a team of highly-qualified lawyers, licensed patent and trademark agents, engineers, paralegals, technical staff and legal professionals whose knowledge, experience, and acumen are second to none. Most of our attorneys and consultants own advanced degrees from both domestic and foreign institutions. We have the depth of experience of our partners with a perfect combination of knowledge, foresight and creativity, making us possible to analyse and solve issues faced by clients from various industries and providing them with all-round or holistic solutions that are not only legally sound, but also commercially sensitive.

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