Japanese laws and regulations

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0. Page summary
1. Structure of Japanese laws and regulations system
2. How to search laws and regulations
3. English translations of 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)Link to an external site
    • 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.

The following webpages explain how to search Japanese L&Rs in further detail:

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 lawsLink to an external site(National Printing Bureau)
    This webpage contains the overview of the promulgation of L&Rs in Official Gazettes.
  • The law making processLink to an external site (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.

(Example)
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
    ①                            ②
Ordinance of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry No. 77)
   ③                         ④  

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).

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 enactedLink to an external site(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 ArchiveLink to an external site(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 searchLink to an external site(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 SystemLink to an external site(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.

Competent authority

Webpage Name
House of Councillors

Diet-related lawsLink to an external site

National Diet Library

National Diet Library Law

National Personnel Authority

Relevant LawsLink to an external site
NPA Recommendations(Remuneration of Public Employees, etc)Link to an external site

Imperial Household Agency

The Laws ConcernedLink to an external site

Fair Trade Commission

Legislation & GuidelinesLink to an external site

National Police Agency

LAWS AND ORDERS RELEVANTLink to an external site(PDF)

Committee for the Protection of Personal Information

Laws and PoliciesLink to an external site

Financial Services Agency

Laws & RegulationsLink to an external site

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Law and PlanLink to an external site

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Food safety information TopicsLink to an external site

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Basic Law / Basic Policy PlanLink to an external site

Small and Medium Enterprise Agency

Outline of SME PoliciesLink to an external site

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Construction Industry Top Page > List of Law and Notice JurisdictionsLink to an external site
Laws concerning train measuresLink to an external site

National Transportation Safety Board

Law & RegulationsLink to an external site 

Japan Tourism Agency

Tourism Nation Promotion Basic LawLink to an external site

Nuclear Regulatory Commission 

NRA Library Related ActsLink to an external site

Board of Audit

The Board of Audit ActLink to an external site

(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.