Classification of Law
eSignature Legality Summary
Under Japanese law, a written signature is not necessarily required for a valid contract unless the contract is subject to specific statutory form requirements (such as large-scale construction work). As a general legal principle (although not expressly stipulated under Japanese legal codes), and subject to certain limited exceptions as noted below, contracts are valid if parties reach an agreement, whether they agree verbally, electronically, or in a physical (e.g. paper) document. The Japan E-signature Law recognizes electronic signatures as a method of entering into agreements, including conditions for the presumption of legal authenticity. To prove a valid contract, parties sometimes have to present evidence in court. In general, Japanese courts have broad discretion in admitting and evaluating evidence. Leading digital transaction management solutions may be able to provide electronic records that are admissible in evidence, to help support the existence, authenticity and valid acceptance of a contract.
Use Cases for Standard Electronic Signature (SES)
Use cases where an SES is typically appropriate include:
- certain HR documents, such as benefits paperwork and other new employee onboarding processes
- commercial agreements between corporate entities, including NDAs, procurement documents, and sales agreements
- consumer agreements, including new retail account opening documents
- certain real estate documents, such as purchase and sales contracts, general lease agreements, and other related documentation for residential and commercial real estate
- IP Transfer agreements
Use Cases That Are Not Typically Appropriate for Electronic Signatures or Digital Transaction Management
Use cases that are specifically barred from digital or electronic processes or that include explicit requirements, such as handwritten (e.g. wet ink) signatures or formal notarial process that are not usually compatible with electronic signatures or digital transaction management.
- Handwritten/paper - contracts for employment (paper) (労働基準法)
- Formal notarization – voluntary guardianship contracts (Act on Voluntary Guardianship Contract)
- Formal notarization - testamentary documents (Civil Code)
- Formal notarization - articles of incorporation (Companies Act)
- Formal notarization - certain government filings under a power of attorney
- Formal notarization - certain fixed term real estate lease agreements (Act on Land and Building Leases)
Local Technology Standards
As a Tiered eSignature Legal Model country, Japan supports the concept of independent accreditation for those signatures by an approved certification body. Accreditation of qualified digital certificate providers (locally referred to as a Specified Certification Business) is delegated to different government ministries.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for general information purposes only. You use this information at your own risk. For legal advice or representation, contact a licensed attorney in your area. Laws may change quickly, so DocuSign, Inc. cannot guarantee that all the information on this form is current or correct. DOCUSIGN DOES NOT GIVE ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, SUITABILITY, OR COMPLETENESS OF THIS INFORMATION. TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED UNDER APPLICABLE LAW, NEITHER DOCUSIGN, NOR ITS AGENTS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, OR AFFILIATES, ARE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES, LOSS OF USE OR PROFITS, OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION), EVEN IF DOCUSIGN HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT, ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THIS INFORMATION
Last updated: May 15, 2017
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