The Civil Code of Japan, one of the major Japanese codes covering real estate, contract and tort law, family law and inheritance law, is due to undergo significant amendment in 2020.

The amendments to the Civil Code, which are due to come into effect on April 1 next year, are of a magnitude not seen since the Civil Code was first enacted 120 years ago.

The majority of the amendments are intended to codify case law principles which the courts have adopted since enactment and are expected to help modernize the Civil Code. However, a few amendments vary or update existing case law principles.

The amendments are also intended to update the language and terminology of the Civil Code in order to make the Code more accessible to non-lawyers.

This client alert is the first in a series in which we outline the key amendments to the Civil Code which will have an impact both broadly and specifically on real estate investments and transactions. In this alert, we provide an overview of the key changes and in subsequent alerts, we examine in greater detail amendments affecting specific real estate transactions including:

  • real estate purchase and sale agreements,
  • real estate lease agreements, and
  • construction agreements.

This alert also provides an overview of amendments to general provisions of the Civil Code such as the statute of limitations, statutory interest rate, termination rights, and transitional measures (grandfathering). In this alert and subsequent alerts in this series, the Civil Code, as amended, is referred to as "the Amended Civil Code".

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