Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Japan: Judges Cannot Engage in Apartment-Leasing Business

(Nov. 2, 2017) Japanese judges cannot engage in for-profit businesses. They may engage in not-for-profit businesses and receive remuneration if they obtain permission from the Supreme Court.  (Court Act, Act No. 59 of 1947, art. 52, Japanese Law Translation website.)  There are similar regulations for civil servants.  (National Public Service Act, Act No. 120 of 1947, arts. 103 & 104, Japanese Law Translation website.)

In regard to the real estate leasing business, however, there have been no guidelines or standards for the approval of leasing arrangements involving judges.  The Supreme Court has approved the leasing of judges’ houses while a judge is temporarily assigned to another area and also the leasing of houses that judges have inherited.  (Leasing an Apartment by a Judge Is NG [No Good], the Supreme Court Stated “Being Incorrupt Required,” Nikkei (Nov. 1, 2017) (in Japanese).)

In a recent case, a judge inherited an apartment building where his parents had lived and leased out other units.  The judge planned to demolish the old building, borrow 130 million yen (about US$1.15 million) from a bank with his wife, rebuild a new 12-unit apartment building, lease it as a whole to a real estate management company, and receive rent from the company.  It was estimated that the couple would obtain five million yen (about US$44,000) in revenue per year from the venture.  (Id.)

However, the Supreme Court did not approve the judge’s planned leasing arrangement.  He appealed the decision, and the case was referred to an outside judicial committee.  The committee upheld the Supreme Court’s decision.  The Supreme Court reaffirmed its prior decision on October 25, 2017, stating “judges are required to be the most fair and incorrupt.”  (Id.)