Japan updates


Contributed by Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Amendments to Payment Services Act
  • Japan
  • 26 April 2019

Cabinet recently submitted a bill to the 198th session of the Diet to amend, among other acts, the Payment Services Act (PSA). The PSA amendments aim to strengthen the regulation of virtual currency exchange service providers. Among other things, the changes concern crypto asset custody, the advertisement and solicitation of crypto assets and crypto asset margin transactions.

Does factoring require a lending licence?
  • Japan
  • 12 January 2018

In Japan, money lending operations are subject to certain licensing requirements. That said, it is generally understood that a registration under the Money Lending Business Act is not required to purchase existing receivables. Thus, it may be easier for non-Japanese financial institutions to acquire receivables as opposed to making loans using funds from their own accounts. However, a recent Osaka District Court judgment suggests that this may not always be the case.

Acquisition of Japanese loans by non-Japanese financial institutions
  • Japan
  • 15 September 2017

Financial institutions that have no operations in Japan can readily acquire loans made to Japanese borrowers by purchasing the receivables relating to such loans. A number of requirements and considerations must be taken into account when transferring loan receivables, including with regard to novation, money lending operations, registered money lenders, perfection and the upcoming amendments to the Civil Code.

Capital Markets

Contributed by Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Amendments to Financial Instruments and Exchange Act
  • Japan
  • 30 April 2019

Cabinet recently submitted a bill to the 198th session of the Diet to amend, among other acts, the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act and the Payment Services Act. Among other things, the amendments introduce new regulations for security-type digital tokens (ie, initial coin offerings and security token offerings) and clarify that digital tokens issued in consideration for crypto assets will be regarded as deemed securities.

Determining recoverable damages following material misstatements in securities registration statements
  • Japan
  • 02 April 2019

If a securities registration statement contains a material misstatement, investors that acquire securities through the relevant offering can hold the issuing company liable for related damages. However, it is unclear what level of damages is recoverable if the issuing company successfully proves that the loss incurred by the investor is at least partly attributable to an unrelated factor or circumstance. A recent Supreme Court judgment has provided some clarity in this regard.

Kyoto District Court rules on raising of capital by third-party allotment
  • Japan
  • 08 January 2019

The Kyoto District Court recently ruled in favour of a shareholder's petition that a listed issuer cease an offering of its new shares by third-party allotment on the grounds that the offering had been conducted through an 'extremely unfair method', despite having been approved by a resolution at the issuer's shareholders' meeting. The court adopted the main purpose rule in accordance with prior court rulings and concluded that the share offering's main purpose had been to reduce the petitioning shareholder's shareholding.

Bond offerings under Japanese securities law
  • Japan
  • 18 December 2018

Foreign private issuers' bonds that are listed on a Japanese securities exchange, such as the Tokyo Pro-Bond Market (TPBM), are subject to both the insider trading rules and the fair disclosure rules under Japanese law, while non-listed bonds (so-called 'Samurai bonds') are not. This article provides a brief explanation of the rules that apply to offerings of Samurai bonds and bonds listed on the TPBM under Japanese securities law.

Application of fair disclosure rule to listed bonds
  • Japan
  • 09 October 2018

The newly introduced fair disclosure rule enacted under Japan's securities laws and regulation regime is most often considered to apply to issuers of listed shares. However, based on the clear wording of the rule, it is also applicable to issuers whose only listed securities are bonds. Although the majority of bonds issued in the Japanese market are unlisted, there is a market dedicated to listed bonds in Japan: the Tokyo Pro-Bond Market.

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
New commitment procedure under Anti-monopoly Act
  • Japan
  • 18 April 2019

A new commitment procedure was recently introduced to the Anti-monopoly Act (AMA), enabling enterprises to voluntarily resolve suspected violations of the AMA with the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). If a commitment is approved, the conduct of the enterprise concerned will not be considered a violation of the AMA and the enterprise will not be subject to legal penalties. The new procedure may lead to more active enforcement by the JFTC.

Employment & Benefits

Contributed by Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Amendments to regulations on working hours and paid annual leave
  • Japan
  • 10 April 2019

A number of amendments to Japan's labour and employment laws recently took effect. Among other things, the amendments concern the monitoring of employee working hours, paid annual leave, the so-called 'highly professional system' and overtime limits. Employers should ensure that their policies and practices comply with the amendments to ensure an easy transition to Japan's new employment framework.

Fixed overtime payment arrangements
  • Japan
  • 27 March 2019

Under Japanese law, employers must – in principle – pay an allowance to employees who work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. As such, from an employer's perspective, it is practical to include an employee's overtime allowance in their base salary where possible. However, for an employee's overtime allowance to be validly included in their base salary, certain requirements must be satisfied. These requirements are a hot topic in Japanese legal practice.

Overtime regulation bill enacted
  • Japan
  • 17 October 2018

The National Diet recently enacted a bill relating to work style reform, which has amended the Labour Standards Act, the Industrial Safety and Health Act and relevant laws. Most amendments will come into effect on 1 April 2019. The amended Labour Standards Act stipulates that the upper limit for overtime will be, in principle, 45 hours a month and 360 hours a year. However, there are exceptions for certain business sectors.

Supreme Court rules on different working conditions for employees rehired after reaching retirement age
  • Japan
  • 26 September 2018

One of the controversial issues regarding Japan's so-called 'lifetime employment system' is whether and to what extent employers can impose different working conditions (eg, salaries, bonuses and allowances) when they rehire employees who were once non-fixed-term employees as fixed-term employees. The Supreme Court recently handed down a significant decision addressing this issue.

Are differences in employment conditions of fixed-term and permanent employees reasonable?
  • Japan
  • 11 July 2018

Article 20 of the Labour Contract Act prohibits the imposition of unreasonable employment conditions on fixed-term employees in order to ensure their fair treatment. In light of two recent Supreme Court decisions on this matter, Japanese employers with both fixed-term and permanent employees should carefully review whether differences in the individual employment conditions of each type of employee are not unreasonable.

Intellectual Property

Contributed by Nishimura & Asahi
TOP-SIDER case: improper use and cancellation of trademark registration
  • Japan
  • 24 June 2019

A recent IP High Court case concerned the cancellation of a trademark registration due to a non-exclusive licensee's improper use of the registered mark. Cases regarding cancellation based on Article 53 of the Trademark Act are rare, and cases in which requests to cancel a trademark registration on this basis are granted are even more so. As such, this case is an interesting example of how the IP High Court determines improper use of a registered trademark.

Bill introduced to reform Design Act
  • Japan
  • 29 April 2019

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently announced that the Cabinet has approved the Bill for the Reform of the Patent and Design Acts, which will now be submitted to the Diet. This article provides a summary of the reformed Design Act, which has – among other things – expanded the scope of protected designs, improved the related design system and increased the duration of design rights.

Overview of IP rights border measures
  • Japan
  • 24 December 2018

In Japan, Customs can seize goods during export or import where they infringe various IP rights. If Customs suspects that certain goods infringe IP rights, it will initiate an identification procedure and notify both the importer and the IP rights holder. If the goods are found to infringe IP rights and no voluntary disposal measures were taken during the protest period, Customs may confiscate and destroy the infringing goods.

Revisions to Copyright Act and Unfair Competition Prevention Act
  • Japan
  • 05 November 2018

Collecting, analysing, combining and processing large amounts of information is critical to the development of the information industry, as exemplified by the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence. However, since information often includes copyrighted works, its use can constitute copyright infringement even where there is no harm to the copyright owner. To resolve these problems, acts amending the Copyright Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention Act were recently enacted.

RED BULL trademarks: determining well-known status and recognising fame
  • Japan
  • 19 March 2018

In a recent case, Red Bull AG claimed that a trademark registered by Korean company Bullsone Co, Ltd should be invalidated due to the likelihood of confusion as to the source of the designated goods. A notable point in this case was the difference in position taken by the Japan Patent Office Trial and Appeal Board and the IP High Court with regard to the relevant trademarks and the evidence to be considered when determining the well-known status of the cited mark.