1. How to Purchase Real Estate in Japan – written declarations –

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How to Purchase Real Estate in Japan – written declarations –

1. Increasing purchase of real estate in Japan

Since the lifting of COVID-related international travel restrictions, there has been an increase in foreign nationals purchasing real estate in Japan once again.

Today, we would like to outline key considerations for individuals who are not Japanese citizens or permanent residents of Japan but are interested in purchasing real estate in the country.

2. Written declarations (e.g. statutory declarations and affidavits)

When purchasing real estate in Japan, it is necessary to sign contracts such as the sales and purcahse agreement.

Of utmost importance to the buyer is ensuring that ownership of the property is properly transferred from the seller as indicated in the property register, called “Touki-bo”.

The process of transferring ownership in the property register is conducted at the Legal Affairs Bureau called “Houmu Kyoku” in Japan.

Typically, the Bureau will require submission of the buyer’s residency certificate. Additionally, depending on the case, personal identification documents and a seal registration certificate may also be necessary.

For individuals residing overseas who do not possess a Japanese residency certificate, alternative official documents are required.

In such cases, the Legal Affairs Bureau often requests a written declaration like statutory declaration or affidavit that is recognized as valid under the laws of the country of residence.

It would be useful and a simple way for such indivisuals to use a driver’s license or similar documents from the country of residence as an alternative. However, it is common for the Bureau to request a written declaration (“宣誓供述書” Sensei Kyoujyutsusho), like statutory declaration or Affidavit, that meets specific requirements.

These declarations depend on local laws, but generally, they are written forms that require a signature in the presence of a person authorized to witness declarations and administer oaths.

It should be noted that written declarations vary in name and method of creation depending on the country, and the Legal Affairs Bureau may not be familiar with the requirements of each country’s declaration.

Frequently asked questions from real estate buyers include inquiries about how to create a statutory declaration or Affidavit for submission to the Legal Affairs Bureau and strategies for persuading the Bureau of its validity under the laws of the country of residence.

Given that the rules regarding written declarations are not universally established, it is advisable to collaborate with a client to research and obtain a written declaration that is easily acceptable, explaining and persuading the Legal Affairs Bureau that it is valid under the laws of the client’s country of residence.

Recent cases have involved residents of Australia successfully using the Digital Commonwealth statutory declaration, available for digital application via the Australian government’s official website, to facilitate property registration changes at the Legal Affairs Bureau in Japan without the need for in-person notarization.

While statutory declarations typically require signing in the presence of a notary, the Digital Commonwealth statutory declaration format allows creation via the official Australian website without the need for notarization, provided strict requirements are met beforehand.

This format proves convenient for individuals, for example, who are already in Japan for property transactions and may have difficulty contacting an Australian notary.

However, the critical issue alongside choosing the appropriate written declaration format is ensuring comprehensive inclusion of all required information as stipulated by the Legal Affairs Bureau.

Therefore, if you need to create a written declaration for real estate purchase purposes, it is highly recommended to consult with a specialist such as a Japanese lawyer or judicial scrivener beforehand.

Lawyer Ken Takahashi

Email: k-takahashi@kensei-law.jp


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