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Japan: Other Professionals Expand Practice Areas, Lawyers Displeased

(Sept. 17, 2014) Although the total number of lawyers (bengoshi) who can represent clients in the courts is small in Japan based on its population, there are many other types of legal professionals. Some of the types of legal professionals seem to be unique to Japan. (Colin P.A. Jones, A Guide to Navigating Japan’s Exotic Legal-Eagle Menagerie, JAPAN TIMES (Oct. 9, 2012).) The Diet (Japan’s legislature), at the end of its 186th session earlier this year, amended an act concerning members of one such legal profession, expanding the role of that profession. The Act to Amend the Gyosei Shoshi Act, Act No. 89 of 2014, was promulgated on June 27. (The text of the amending legislation, which was passed without change, is available on the House of Representatives website [in Japanese].)

The term “gyosei shoshi” has been translated as “administrative scriveners.” For their clients, they prepare and submit documents to administrative agencies for approvals, the issuance of licenses, and other administrative procedures such as immigration documents and drafts of certain contracts, including agreements on the division of inheritances. They can represent their clients at interviews and administrative hearings in relation to the applications they prepared and submitted. (Gyosei Shoshi Act, Act No. 4 of 1951, arts. 1-2 & 1-3 [in Japanese] E-GOV.)

When Act No. 89 of 2014 becomes effective at the end of 2014, qualified gyosei shoshi will be able to represent their clients for administrative review procedures and file objections in relation to the applications they prepared and submitted for the clients. (Id. art. 1-3 ¶ 1 item 2.) To be qualified, gyosei shoshi must complete a training course that is offered by the Gyosei Shoshi Association. (Id. art. 1-3 ¶ 2.)

The Gyosei Shoshi Association (GSA) had lobbied to expand their areas of practice; the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) had opposed this lobbying effort. According to the GSA, “the amendment confers upon qualified gyosei shoshi who have completed a training course the right to provide representation to clients during objection procedures against administrative actions,” which had been a “long-cherished wish” of the Association. (Koji Kitayama, Chairman’s Narrative on Promulgation of “Act to Partially Amend Gyosei Shoshi Act” (Act No. 89, June 27, 2014) [in Japanese], Japan Federation of Certified Administrative Procedures Legal Specialists Associations website (June 27, 2014).) By contrast, the JFBA pointed out in detail five specific concerns of the JFBA related to gyosei shoshi representing clients in objection procedures against administrative actions. (Kenji Yamagishi, Chairman’s Statement to Oppose Gyosei Shoshi Act Amendment [in Japanese], Japan Federation of Bar Associations website (Aug. 10, 2012).)