[Judgment] Four Requirements before Foreign In Personam Judgments can Be Recognised in Japan

Singapore Law Watch, a free daily legal news service for the law community in Singapore and abroad, has recently republished a news report first appeared on The Straits Times on how a Singapore-based father applied to a court in Yokohama, Japan to recognise a Singapore family court order so as to bring back to Singapore his daughter who was allegedly "abducted" to Japan by his ex-wife.

While the recognition of foreign family law orders is subject to a different regime in some jurisdictions, we understand that in Japan the rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments under the Code of Civil Procedure (Article 118) and the Civil Execution Act (Article 24) apply mutatis mutandis to the recognition and enforcement of foreign family law decrees.

Broadly speaking, under Article 118, a foreign in personam judgment must satisfy the following conditions before it can be recognised in Japan:

  • The foreign court should have jurisdiction over the case based on Japanese law or a treaty to which Japan is a party;
  • The process was duly served on the unsuccessful party, or the unsuccessful party voluntarily answered the complaint;
  • The foreign judgment and the foreign court proceedings are not incompatible with public policy in Japan; and
  • The foreign country would recognise a similar judgment rendered in Japan (reciprocity requirement).

Japanese courts have generally been generous in finding reciprocity, and have recognised judgments from, among others, Australia, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore. 

We have been made aware that an appeal has been lodged in Japan in relation to this case, and we will continue to monitor developments. 

Read "Country Report: Japan" in our Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Asia to learn more.

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