Every Child

Has Two Parents


Attorney Fees in Japan


Full Fee Legal Representation

Usually, a lawyer will charge 5000 yen for an initial 30 minute meeting.  See our list of online information on Japanese legal organizations for recommendations by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and others for this initial consultation.

The Japan Law website says the following in an article on 2003 Japan Law.  "With respect to legal fees, Nichibenren, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has decided to strongly request that its members give clients a written estimate of legal costs before providing such services. At the same time the Nichibenren will be publishing informal guidelines on suggested fees on legal services to be distributed at courts and legal service centers. This works in parallel with government plans for 2004 to drop the so-called “standard provision” on legal fees, which has been much criticized for its lack of transparency. "

Attorney Fee Table

There used to be a legally established attorney fee table.  But according to the following statement by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (cached copy), it was probably abolished.  Although here is a copy of what looks to be a page of it (cached copy) that was found on their website.

Sample Fees

One firm in a major city (but not Tokyo) proposed the following hourly charges to a member, in late 2000. Founding Attorney: 37,000 English speaking American lawyer: 32,000 Senior Japanese attorney: 27,000  Junior Japanese attorney (who did most of the lower level work): 22,000 per hour.

I just paid per session with the lawyer as I didn't really need him to come to the court with me (10,000 per session). As I remember the first two lawyers I tried quoted me figures of around 500,000 upfront and another 500,000 on a successful result but that was for the whole thing not just part of it.

My mediation at family court cost me approx. ¥300,000 plus expenses of about another yen 100,000. I think this is the bar assn standard. I think the law firm is probably right in treating the shinpan rikon as a new case (because the chotei rikon was dismissed). As you can see with both law firms I went thru, they itemized charges without me even asking them to do so.

Some lawyers will ask for a large retaining fee and then refuse to itemize

Retainer Fees


Contingency Fees


Other Fees


Advice on Reducing Fees

You might ask your attorney to show you what the bar association guidelines are, and if he's charging more than that to explain why. Maybe you might be able to negotiate with him to reduce his fee that way. Perhaps ask him to assign your case to a junior associate in his law firm to get the costs down. You might also be able to insist on working with him on a "pay as you go" basis. Or just do it yourself and perhaps use your attorney selectively for certain things, on a pay as you go basis. Japanese family court seems pretty informal and as long as you bring a dependable interpreter with you, it's not too hard to do a lot of it without an attorney.

Government Subsidized Legal Aid

One group described elsewhere on this site, the Japan Legal Aid Association, offers the following guidelines for incomes levels required to get free consultation. Add 10% for residents of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka.  Around these income levels, they will consider other factors such as rent, home loans, medical fees, etc.  (Guidelines prepared for the year 2000.)

The first income figure is from one pamphlet and their web site.  The second one is from another pamphlet.  It is unclear which is accurate.  The second one might be the first, plus the extra 10% for living in a big city, since the pamphlet was picked up in Tokyo.

Technically, these fees are merely deferred, and must be paid back, but there are exceptions.  Read their web site for more information.


The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.

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