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HMSC meeting ‘Japanese law on last will and testament’

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The presentation on Japanese law on last will and testament was held on  May 13 at Sapporo International Plaza. The speaker is Ms. Rie Tohyama, attorney-at-law. There were 25 people in attendance of which 14 were expats who have been living in Hokkaido for quite a while.



Wills: there are two main types:


  1. Holographic: it must be handwritten, contain the year, month and day of composition, and must be signed and, preferably,  stamped with a personal seal. It should then be placed in an envelope and sealed and put in a safe place. No witnesses are required. When the writer of the will dies, whoever finds the will should take it unopened to the Family Court. The judge of the Family Court will summon the heirs, who must appear in person, and read the will out loud to them.
  2. Notarized: it is advisable to write a will by using a notary public. The will writer should go to the notary’s office and instruct the notary on the terms of his desired will. The notary will compose the will on a computer and give it to the will writer for signature and seal. There must be two witnesses to the signing. Clerks from the notary’s office can serve as witnesses for a fee of ¥5000 each. The notarized will will be kept in the notary’s office thereafter.

Inheritance tax: before the estate is taxed, ¥30 million will be deducted from its value plus ¥6 million for each heir named in the will.


It was a very lively session after the break, and the speaker pointed out that being a foreigner in Japan makes the preparation of a will more complicated, and is more necessary, especially if the foreigner owns property in Japan. It was recommended that expats have a will made in both their home country and in Japan, and the contents should be identical.  If there are questions regarding jurisdiction and inheritance between countries or states, these questions can only be resolved through the “Conflict of Law and Remission Clauses” which countries have established between each other.  It was advised that each foreigner research the Inheritance laws pertaining to their home country/state in order to write a will that will be written in such a way to avoid problems after one’s death.




Written by asianneighbors

May 29, 2017 at 1:24 am

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