Jurisdiction and Governing Law in Divorce Cases in Japan


If you wish to file a lawsuit, the first things you have to check are the governing law and jurisdiction.


Jurisdiction in divorce cases


When a court does not have jurisdiction over a case, it does not have capability to deliver a judgment.


A Japanese court has jurisdiction over a divorce lawsuit case, when:

  • The residential address (or domicile, if the address is not known) of the defendant is in Japan;
  • The residential address of the defendant was in Japan when s/he deceased;
  • Both parties are of Japanese nationality;
  • Last common address of the parties was in Japan;
  • The whereabouts of the defendant is not known;
  • A divorce judgment in a foreign country is not effective in Japan; or
  • There are other special circumstances.


Governing law in divorce cases


Governing law is the laws of a country applicable over a case. Your case may be governed by laws of a country other than Japan even though it is tried in a Japanese court under certain conditions.


Under Japanese law, the governing law in a divorce case will be:

  • laws of Country X when the spouses both have nationality of Country X;
  • laws of Country X when the spouses have different nationality and their habitual residence is in Country X;
  • laws of Country X when the spouses have different nationality and habitual residence but Country X is the place most closely related to the spouses;
  • laws of Japan when one of the spouses is of Japanese nationality and has habitual residence in Japan.




If you are a foreigner, you have to decide which laws will be applicable to your case before looking into how the case will be solved in Japanese courts.


If you have any problem about divorce in Japan, feel free to consult with us.