Tokyo Bar Association

President's statement aims to support citizens and businesses affected by the Declaration of Emergency Situations due to the spread of new types of coronaviruses and to establish a legal consultation system that makes it easier for them to consult


April 24, 2020
Hidemi Tomita
President, Tokyo Bar Association

The spread of the new type coronavirus (COVID-19) spread all over the world. In Japan as well, on April 7 this year, the Government issued an emergency declaration to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other organizations, and on April 16 this year, the scope of the emergency declaration was expanded nationwide.

Although citizens are required to refrain from voluntarily going out without urgent need until May 6 [translator's note: this was later extended until May 25] this year, and some businesses are required to take leave or shorten business hours, it cannot be said that sufficient compensation measures have been announced by the Government. Notwithstanding this, not only the concerns of citizens and businesses regarding infections themselves, but also their daily lives and their business continuity are becoming increasingly uncertain.

Many legal issues such as ① dismissal, non-payment of wages, discontinuation of orders, and non-payment of fees relating to regular employment and non-regular employment-freelance, ② the right of children and students who cannot go to school to receive education, mental and physical health, and the security of the lives of guardians who are unable to work at school, and ③ business operators' problems such as breach of contract, discontinuation of transactions, labor issues, and financial management, and ④ prejudice and discrimination against healthcare workers and infectious persons have been reported in the mass media every day.

In the first part of the media, there was an argument that bar associations may not meet the legal needs of citizens.

Under the Declaration of Emergency Situations, the Association's lawyers are required to refrain from providing face-to-face legal consultation and legal services at bar associations and legal consultation centers in order to prevent infections. However, the Association's lawyers, as doctors in social life, continue to provide legal consultation services to citizens in order to respond appropriately to their requests for legal consultation. This system does not involve the movement of telephone consulters and lawyers, and we continue to operate legal consultation centers.

Specifically, we have registered 741 counselors at the Lawyers Referral Center (Consumer Consultation, Borrowing Consultation, Consultation on Elderly Persons and Disabled Persons, Labor Consultation, Divorce Consultation, DV Consultation, Consultation on Public Assistance, Consultation on Criminal and Juvenile Cases, etc.. Currently, we have registered 741 counselors at the Lawyers Referral Center (FAX 03-3581-0865) and received consultations. In addition, we have also received consultations from citizens at the Human Rights 110 (Telephone 03-3503-0110), Civil Intervention Victim Relief Center (Telephone 03-8135-3300), and Condominium Management Consultation Counter (Telephone 03-8135-2223). For businesses, at the Small and Medium Enterprise Legal Support Center (Telephone 03-3581-8977), more than 279 persons in charge of consultation are registered and a system is in place to receive consultation.

In addition, on April 20 of this year, the Japan Federation Bar Association's New Corona Virus Law Consultation National Unified Dial (Telephone 0570-073-567) has begun to receive consultations via telephone. A total of 214 lawyers from the Lawyers Referral Center and 102 from the Small and Medium Enterprise Legal Support Center participate in this legal consultation service to consult not only Tokyo Metropolitan but also those from neighboring prefectures.

We will continue its efforts to provide support in order to resolve anxiety caused by the spread of new coronavirus that exceeds expectations and has no visibility of their outlets as soon as possible and to restore their original lives.