Tokyo Bar Association

Foreign Lawyer Registration and Admission

Foreign lawyers who wish to practice the law of their home or other licensed jurisdiction in Japan must satisfy the requirements and follow the procedures for registration under the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Handling of Legal Services by Foreign Lawyers ("Foreign Lawyers Act"). The procedure for registration as a Registered Foreign Lawyer (Gaikokuho Jimu Bengoshi) or "GJB" essentially entails two steps: (a) submission of an application for approval as a GJB by the Minister of Justice; and, if Ministerial approval is granted, (b) registration as a special member of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations ("JFBA") and a local bar association*.

* The JFBA is a federation of all local bar associations in Japan, comprised of the local bar association of each of the 50 jurisdictions of the District Courts of Japan (the one exception being Tokyo, which while under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo District Court, has three local bar associations). A foreign lawyer applicant who wishes to be a GJB must register as a special member of both the JFBA and a local bar association.

Requirements for Ministry of Justice Approval

Approval by the Minister of Justice to register as a GJB under the Foreign Lawyers Act is subject to satisfaction of the following requirements. Specifically, the applicant must:

  1. have a valid license to practice law in another jurisdiction equivalent to that of lawyers admitted to practice local law in Japan (Art. 10.1.1)
  2. have at least 3 years' post-qualification professional experiences (Art. 10.1.1)
    cf.)Legal Practice in Japan by Foreign Lawyers - What you need to know
  3. intend to provide legal services in good faith (Art. 10.1.3)
  4. have a business plan that is expected to be viable and comply with applicable laws of Japan (Art. 10.1.3)
  5. reside in Japan (Art. 10.1.3)
  6. have a secure financial foundation for operating the legal practice (Art. 10.1.3)
  7. be able to meet potential liabilities of the legal practice (Art. 10.1.3)
  8. not fall under any of the "black list" requirements including having a criminal record involving imprisonment or severer punishment (as applicable), or disbarment, removal from the roll of solicitors or barristers, or removal from office as a public official or similar disqualification or dismissal and less than 3 years have passed after having been subject to such disciplinary action (Art. 10.2)

    For further details regarding foreign lawyer approval requirements, please visit the Ministry of Justice's website

Application and Registration Procedure

The procedure for registering as a Registered Foreign Lawyer is set out in further detail below:


[(a) Approval Process-Ministry of Justice]

  1. Preliminary review of application (this is not mandatory, but is available if requested by the applicant)
  2. Filing of application for the MOJ approval** by the applicant (Art. 9)
  3. The MOJ review of application and request for the JFBA assessment (Art. 10.4)
  4. The JFBA review and provision of assessment to the MOJ (Art. 10.4)
  5. Notice of approval/rejection by the MOJ to the applicant and the JFBA (Art. 11.1)
  6. Public notice in the official gazette.

For further details about the MOJ approval procedure, please visit the MOJ's website regarding the foreign lawyer approval process

** Applicants will need to elect in the application form which local bar association they wish to join. If the address of the applicant's law firm is outside of Tokyo, local bar association membership will be determined by the address of their law firm. However, if the address is in Tokyo, the applicant will need to select which of the three Tokyo bar associations they wish to join at the time of application.
 In addition, to become a member of a local bar association, the applicant must have 2 members who will recommend them to the local bar association. These 2 members may be either Japanese lawyer members or GJB members or one of each, but they must be members of the local bar association the applicant wishes to join.

[(b) Registration and Admission Process-the JFBA and the Local Bar Association]

  1. Registration documents (both for the JFBA and the local bar association) submitted by the applicant through the local bar association which the applicant wishes to join (Art. 25.1)
  2. The local bar association forwards the registration document to the JFBA. (Art. 25.2).
    The local bar association may opine as to eligibility. (Art. 25.4)
  3. Registration by the JFBA after its review (Art. 27)
  4. Notice by the JFBA to the applicant, the MOJ, and the local bar association (Art. 27)
  5. Registration by the local bar association
  6. Notice by the local bar association to the applicant

For further details about the registration and admission process at JFBA, please visit the JFBA's website.

Procedure for Foreign Lawyers to be Registered as a GJB and become a Special Member of the Tokyo Bar Association

For foreign lawyers who wish to become a special member of the Tokyo Bar Association ("TBA"), the registration process is as follows:

  1. Applicant must complete the prescribed forms for registration with both the JFBA and the TBA, and prepare the prescribed supporting documents (▼see)
  2. Applicant files an application for registration (with both the JFBA and the TBA) and submits all supporting documents (▼see due date for submission)
  3. The TBA forwards the documents submitted by the applicant to the JFBA
  4. The JFBA registers the applicant as a special member of the JFBA if approved
  5. The JFBA notifies the TBA of completion of the JFBA registration of the applicant as a special member
  6. The TBA notifies the applicant of completion of registration (with both the JFBA and the TBA), and provides the applicant with a Registered Foreign Lawyer's badge

For information regarding registration and admission at another local bar association, please contact that local bar association.

Registration Fees

(1)Registration and license tax: 60,000 JPY (please purchase revenue stamps)
(2)Registration fee of the JFBA: 30,000 JPY
(3)(only if the applicant files an application for addition of designated law): 5,000 JPY
(4)Registration fee of the TBA: 30,000 JPY
*Please pay fees from (2) to (4) in cash at the GJB Registration Office or by bank transfer to the TBA (not to the JFBA)

What to submit


How to submit

scan in PDF format and submit via email
*Please call the GJB Registration Office, Public Relations Department of the TBA on 81-3-3581-2251 for the contact email address for submitting GJB applications.  

Due Date for Submission of Application

Please note the following

  1. The GJB Registration Office, Public Relations Department at the TBA conducts a preliminary review of the draft application documents to confirm they are in the prescribed form. Therefore:
     (1) Of the three copies of the application form to be submitted to the JFBA (one for the JFBA, one for the local bar association, and the other for the applicant), please submit the JFBA copy
     (2) Do not date or sign the documents
     (3) Certificate of Minister of Justice approval does not need to be attached if it is yet to be issued
     (4) Please include a copy of the "document describing the applicant's record of honors/disciplines, evaluation of the applicant's professional duties as a foreign lawyer issued by the bar association" even if Japanese translation has yet to be completed at the time of submission
     (5) Members' signature in the letter of recommendation may be left blank
     (6) You do not have to attach your photo (but attach your photo at the time of submission after completion of the preliminary review)
  2. After completion of the preliminary review by the GJB Registration Office, the applicant submits the original GJB applications and supporting documents to the GJB Registration Office, Public Relations Department of the TBA. You will be instructed how and what you submit during the preliminary review.
  3. Member recommendations
    Under the TBA rules, recommendations must come from two TBA members, either Japanese lawyer member or GJB special member.
  4. Letter of recommendation (both the JFBA form and the TBA form) If the member is a Japanese lawyer member, the letter must be signed and sealed by the member.
  5. Other forms, e.g. application for addition of designated law, statement regarding use of maiden name, statement regarding use of business entity name, or statement regarding joint use of office, to be included as applicable.


For inquiries, contact the GJB Registration Office, Public Relations Department, Tokyo Bar Association on 81-3-3581-2251 (direct).

Tokyo Bar Association Address:
Bar Association Building 6th Floor
1-1-3 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0013