24 July 2012

Tokyo firm offers specialist advice to foreigners

A law firm providing services to foreign residents - including those applying for refugee or resident status - is to open in Tokyo in response to recent government moves to amend the country's immigration laws.

Tokyo: October launch for firm

Earlier this month, the central government implemented a system whereby information about all foreign residents will be compiled in a single database, increasing government’s control. A senior official of the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations told the Japan Times that ‘it is necessary to immediately build a system to prevent human rights violations’ against foreigners'.

Lawyer training

Although the Tokyo Public Law Office already has a section dealing with foreign clients – providing about 30 consultations a month -- the law firm will be the first private practice specialising solely in that field.
The firm – which is scheduled to open in October -- will initially consist of six lawyers, providing assistance in English, Korean and Spanish, but is expected to expand to cover more than 10 languages, as well as providing training for inexperienced lawyers. It will be based in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, near the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau.


While some have applauded the decision – and the firm has been offered financial support from the national bar association as well as the Tokyo Bar Association -- the Japan Law Geek blog expressed doubts.
In a recent post, a blogger commented that ‘I am not entirely sure I see the point’, since Tokyo already has many experts working with foreign clients as part of larger law firms, and that what would be truly helpful would be a firm that ‘acted as a full-throated advocate for foreigners’ rights in Japan’, including in child custody or criminal matters, which this new firm is unlikely to provide.

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