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Searching for Current Japanese Laws and Regulations

The following is a guest post by Noriko Ohtaki, a research fellow at the Law Library of Congress.  

This is a quick guide to searching online for current Japanese laws and regulations.

In Japan, laws and regulations (cabinet orders, ministerial ordinances, and rules made by government agencies) are promulgated in the Official Gazette. You can find all promulgated laws and regulations in the Official Gazette. However, in many cases, it is difficult to understand what is currently being enforced by only looking at the Gazette, since some of the measures contain articles to amend other laws and regulations.

annotated-e-gov-pageIn order to provide information on what is currently being enforced, there is a collection of “current laws and regulations” made by integrating the articles amending the promulgated laws and regulations.

In the United States, you could compare the promulgated laws and regulations to slip laws, a collection of current laws and regulations to the United States Code.

The online search for current laws and regulations is provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC). The search includes approximately 8,000 current laws and regulations as of March 1, 2014, and is updated monthly.

You can search by terms to find how and in which laws and regulations a term is used; law title to find a specific law or regulation; A-Z to find a specific law or regulation with the first letter of the law title; fields such as ‘the Diet,’ ‘Administrative Organizations,’ ‘Statistics,’ ‘Judiciary,’ ‘National Tax,’ or ‘Labor’ to find what kind of laws and regulations are included in each field; and law numbering, the identifier of laws and regulations, to find specific laws and regulations more easily than a title search.

In the search results, you can see the law title, law numbering and text of the law or regulation you searched with some additional links and information.

The results include a link to each article to make it easy to reach the article you want to see, latest amendment to clarify the version of the law or regulation, a link to the referred law or regulation when another law or regulation is referred to in the article, and the text of the referred law or regulation.

e-gov-law-title-numbering-link

You can scroll down the text and see ‘Supplementary provisions’ if you want to check the history of amendments made to the law or regulation.

e-gov-supplementary-provisions

‘Supplementary provisions’ is the part of laws and regulations that provides particular information about the measure, such as the date of enforcement and transitional measures in general.  Except in the case of the primary supplementary provisions (the first one is provided when the law or regulation was promulgated), this part also contains the law numbering of the promulgated law or regulation that amended the measure.

Law numbering is configured by the date of promulgation, type (law, cabinet order, ministerial ordinance, etc), and serial number for each year, so you can find what kind of amendments were made if you check the Official Gazette issued on the day of the promulgation.

e-gov-structure-of-the-law-numbering

Structure of the Law Numbering

Now you know a way to search current Japanese laws and regulations online and to check their history of amendments. But, of course, these are still in Japanese. If you would like to see English translations of major Japanese Laws and regulations, please visit “Japanese Law Translation.” This website is provided by the Ministry of Justice.

The translations are not official because only the original Japanese texts of the laws and regulations have legal effect. However, it is still a helpful tool in understanding current Japanese laws and regulations.

I hope this post will help someone who is interested in Japanese laws and regulations.

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