Japanese laws and regulations
0. Page summary
This webpage explains Japanese laws and regulations (L&Rs) briefly and introduces how to search them on the internet.
In this webpage, we mainly focus on L&Rs enacted by the legislature or issued by authorities of Japanese government. Thus, explanations of local regulations and rules, or notifications issued by local authorities are not included. Notices and communications issued by authorities of Japanese government (N&Cs) are not included, either.
The following website provides Japanese legal information in English:
- Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII)
- AsianLII is a database mainly developed by Australian agencies such as the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), a joint facility of the Law Faculties at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Legal cases and legislation in Asian countries including Japan will be searchable in this database. AsianLII boasts a wide coverage of information; however, frequency of information update and information volume significantly differ country by country, region by region.
- How to seach Japanese laws and regulations (National Diet Library) (Japanese)
- How to search Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan(National Diet Library) (Japanese)
1. Structure of Japanese laws and regulations system
Types of laws and regulations
The definition of the term "laws and regulations" includes constitutions, treaties, laws, imperial ordinances, cabinet orders, ordinances of offices and ministries, rules, notifications, instructions, N&Cs, and local regulations and rules.
L&Rs are promulgated by publishing them in Official Gazettes (Kanpo). The promulgation dates are the same as the publication dates of relevant Official Gazettes.
Official Gazettes contain constitution, treaties, laws, imperial ordinances, cabinet orders, ordinances rules and notifications of ministries and offices, and some instructions of ministries and offices. The rest of instructions and the entirety of N&Cs are not published in Official Gazettes.
- Promulgation of laws(National Printing Bureau)
This webpage contains the overview of the promulgation of L&Rs in Official Gazettes.
- The law making process (Cabinet Legislation Bureau)
This webpage explains the legislative process of government bills introduced to the Diet(Kakuho) and the promulgation of laws. Kakuho are bills introduced into the Diet by the Cabinet.
In addition, bills include Shuho, which are introduced to the Diet by members or any Standing and Special committees or the Commission on the Constitution in the House of Representatives, as well as Sanho, which are introduced by members or any Standing and Special committees, Research Committee, or the Commission on the Constitution in the House of Councillors.
Laws and regulations Number
L&Rs can be identified by their number as shown below. Some L&Rs may have different numbers under the same name; therefore, the relevant number needs to be identified first to search L&Rs.
Civil Code (April 27,1896 Law No.89)
① ② ③ ④
Ordinance for Coming into Force of the Electricity Business Act (October 18, 1995
Ordinance of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry No. 77)
① Name of L&Rs
② Date of promulgation
③ Type of L&Rs
④ Number(The number starts from 1 every year.)
2. How to search laws and regulations
Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills
Index Database to Japanese Laws and Regulations and Bills and Index Database to Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan can be used to search index information such as L&Rs numbers and changes to legislation.
Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills is a database to search information such as of enactment, revision or abolition of L&Rs including ordinances enacted after the formulation of official documents (Kobunshiki), in February 1886(Meiji 19) (Japanese search only).
Notifications and instructions of ministries and offices enacted after or effective as of August 2004(Heisei 16) are searchable. N&Cs are unsearchable.
Index Database to Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan is a database to search index information of L&Rs enacted since the restoration of government to the crown(Taisei Hokan) in October 1867(Keio 3) to promulgation of Kobunshiki in February1886(Meiji 19) (Japanese search only).
- Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills(National Diet Library) (Japanese)
- Index Database to Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan
(National Diet Library) (Japanese)
Laws and regulations (enacted and revised)
Although enacted L&Rs are immediately published in such official publications as the Official Gazettes and the Statute Books (Horei Zensho), there is no official compendium of revised L&Rs. The Administrative Management Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications operates a governmental database "e-Gov", which contains revised L&Rs.
Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills and Index Database to Laws and Regulations in early Meiji Japan links search results with text of L&Rs in both enactment and revision (if available).
Enacted L&Rs are mostly linked to Official Gazettes (National Diet Library Digital Collections), Statute Books (National Diet Library Digital Collections), and Laws enacted (House of Representatives).
Also some L&Rs are linked to the following sources:
Dajyo Ruiten (A chronological record that comprises precedents, L&Rs extracted from government publications issued from 1867(Keio 3)to 1881(Meiji 14) which has 19 categories classifications) and Goshomei Genpon (the original text of constitutions, imperial rescripts, laws and imperial ordinances) in the National Archives of Japan Digital Archive.
Revised L&Rs are linked to e-Gov laws and regulations search (Administrative Management Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) .
- Official Gazettes (National Diet Library Digital Collections)
Digitalized Official Gazettes issued from July 2, 1883(Meiji 16) to April 30, 1952(Showa 27) are available. Please refer to Official Gazettes for more details.
- Statute Books(National Diet Library Digital Collections) (Japanese)
Materials which extracted and edited L&Rs parts of Official Gazettes on monthly basis. As in Official Gazettes, they show L&Rs at the time of enactment. Though the materials first published in 1885(Meiji 18), their contents are compiled from 1867 (Keio 3), before the first publication of Official Gazettes.
Digitalized Statute Books issued until 1912(Meiji 45) are available on the internet.
- Laws enacted(House of Representatives) (Japanese)
This website shows texts of laws enacted after the 1st Plenary Session of the Diet in May 1947(Showa 22).
- National Archives of Japan Digital Archive(National Archives of Japan)
Digital images of official documents including Goshomei Gempon, important cultural properties and lists of official documents held by the National Archives of Japan are available for search, browse, print and download.
- e-Gov laws and regulations search(Administrative Management Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) (Japanese)
This database provides L&Rs checked by each ministry and office. Rules of legislative and judicial bodies are not included.
3. English translations of laws and regulations
Currently, there is no official English (or other language) translation of Japanese L&Rs. Comprehensive translation of Japanese L&Rs is not available, either.
The following show how to search English translations of Japanese L&Rs.
(1) Translations recorded in Japanese Law Translation Database System (Ministry of Justice)
- Japanese Law Translation Database System(Ministry of Justice)
Search by name, number, relevant authority, field, provision/word in Japanese or foreign language translation of L&Rs is available. In this database system, foreign language translations are linked to Index Database to Japanese Laws, Regulations and Bills.
(2) Translations of L&Rs prepared by national bodies
＊The following table summarizes Japanese L&Rs translated in other languages on each authority's website.
|House of Councillors|
National Diet Library
National Personnel Authority
Imperial Household Agency
Fair Trade Commission
National Police Agency
Committee for the Protection of Personal Information
Financial Services Agency
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Small and Medium Enterprise Agency
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
National Transportation Safety Board
Japan Tourism Agency
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Board of Audit
(3) Publications which contain Japanese L&Rs translated into foreign languages by private publishers
(4) Translations of Japanese L&Rs in monographs, articles and research papers
The Parliamentary Documents and Official Publications Room summarized relevant translations in our library's materials.
The following webpage also introduces how to search English translations of Japanese L&Rs.
- How to search English translations of Japanese laws(National Diet Library) (Japanese)