Court-Admissible Show more 
General business use Show more 

Classification of Law

Civil Law

Japan's legal system is a mixture of Roman civil law and Anglo-American common law systems.  Civil law operates in areas such as family relations, property, succession, contract, and criminal law, while statutes and principles of common law origin are evident in such areas as constitutional law, procedure, corporations law, taxation, insurance, labour relations, banking and currency.

Civil law systems are based on concepts derived from old Roman law, distinguishable by their reliance on having a comprehensive set of rules and principles codified and easily accessible to both citizens and legal professionals. Codified laws are regularly revised to reflect the current environment, and have stronger emphasis in civil law countries than any precedent set by earlier court cases. Civil law countries cover more than 65% of world’s legal system, including the majority of continental Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

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. 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 document (e.g. paper) . 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 Signature

Use cases where an Electronic Signature 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.

  • Formal notarization – voluntary guardianship contracts (Act on Voluntary Guardianship Contract)
  • Formal notarization - testamentary documents (Civil Code)
  • 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 and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Laws governing electronic signature may change quickly, so DocuSign cannot guarantee that all the information on this site is current or correct. Should you have specific legal questions about any of the information on this site, you should consult with a licensed attorney in your area.

Last updated: November 01, 2019