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Study Law in Japan 2024

Study in Japan

Earning a Law Degree in Japan

In 2004, Japan implemented a new law school system based more on formal schooling than just comprehensive and difficult annual examinations. Until a few years ago, the Japanese bar exam had a passing rate of just three percent; most students had to take the exam several times before successfully attaining the required grade. In fact, the bar exam was so notoriously rigorous that many so-called "cram schools" emerged in Japan that specialized in assisting prospective lawyers who were planning to take the bar exam.

The Japanese Government also passed a law in 2004 permitting the development of graduate level law schools offering Juris Doctor degrees. Earning a law degree in Japan now takes between five and seven years. Since 2006, Japanese bar examinations require students possess a law school degree before taking the exam. In addition, since revising the old bar exam, passage rates have risen to nearly 50 percent. However, students cannot take the exam more than three times in five years.

Tuition Fees

Semester tuition fees for earning a law degree in Japan are higher than those in the U.S. and Europe. Average fees charged by a Japanese university is around 600,000 yen (4500 Euros, $6000 USD). International students electing to earn a law degree in Japan should expect to pay $60,000 USD (45,000 Euros) just in school expenses (admission, "equipment" and facility fees). Moreover, living expenses are also higher in Japan than other Western countries, especially in Tokyo and other major cities. Scholarships are available from universities but competition is stiff and only the top students qualify for help with tuition.

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Basic monthly living cost

  • Rent in a shared flat

  • Share of utilities

  • Internet subscription

  • Local transportation


Sample lifestyle cost

  • Fast food combo

  • Cinema ticket

  • Pint of local beer


About Japan

Japan is an Asian island nation lying east of North and South Korea, China and the Sea of Japan. Technically an "archipelago" (large cluster of islands), the nation of Japan is comprised of nearly 7000 islands, with the largest four islands being Hokkaido, Shikoku, Honshu (home to Tokyo, Japan's largest city) and Kyushu. Tokyo is currently the world' largest metropolitan area, home to 35 million people and a thriving economy based on the production of high-tech products and exports.

Fast Facts about Japan

- Japan has one of the highest life expectancy in the world--80 for men and 83 for women.

- Buddhism, Shintoism and various forms of Christianity are Japan's primary religions.

- Japan is a mountainous, forested country famous for the majestic Mt. Fuji, a semi- active volcano rising nearly 12,500 feet (3800 meters) but often capped by deep snow.

- Japan's currency is the yen. One yen equals 100 sen. Yen coins are available in one, five, ten, 50, 100 and 500 denominations.

- Students planning to study law in Japan should be aware that most ATM machines are closed on the weekends. In addition, only ATM machines found in post offices and some convenient stores take foreign ATM cards.

- Japan has three separate writing systems that are integrated into one: Hiragana, Kanji and Katakana. Children learn the Hiragana and Katakana system initially, then are taught Kanji throughout middle and high school.

- Japan's leader is the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the Emperor and with the "confidence" of Japan's House of Representatives.

Japan's Legal System

Japan adopted in 1945 a constitution containing 31 articles describing human rights and providing for the division of judicial, legislative and executive powers.

The Japanese government consist of two parliaments--the "Shuugi-In" (the lower diet) and the "Sangi-In" (the upper diet), while the court system is supported by one Supreme Court, eight higher courts and 50 family and district courts.

Civil suits and small crimes are decided by one of nearly 500 summary courts that have jurisdiction in specific prefectures. With the rapid development of Japan's economy over the past 30 years, the nation's contract laws, which are primarily based on the Civil Code, have been subject to re-examination and revisions. In fact, Japan is experiencing a shortage of lawyers specializing in contract and civil law due to economic expansion and emphasis on international business transactions.

Criminal law in Japan is categorized under crimes against individuals, crimes against the state and crimes against society. Crimes against citizens and their freedoms include homicide, bodily injury, rape, kidnapping and assault. Property crimes involve robbery, embezzlement, theft, extortion and fraud. Arson and indecent public behavior are considered crimes against society.

In Japan, anyone under 20 years old is still legally considered a juvenile and subject to laws differing from laws covering adults. Family court decides juvenile cases and initiates

Visa Requirements

Which visa you need depends on how long you are going to study in Japan:

  1. Short-term courses up to 90 days: many nationalities can visit Japan for up to 90 days on a visa waiver. When you arrive in Japan you will get a sticker in your passport, which shows that you can stay in Japan for 90 days. If you travel on a visa waiver you must have a return ticket within 90 days.
  2. Long-term courses longer than 90 days: For courses that are 20 weeks (two quarters) or longer you should apply for a student visa. The Japanese college student visa is also known as Ryugaku."

What type of Visa do you need?

Visa name

Student Visa

Price and currency

JPY 3000

The visa application fee is about 3,000 yen for single entry, and 6,000 yen for a double-entry or multiple-entry.

Please note that the visa application fee is not fixed, and depends on the nationality of the student and course being pursued. The best way is to contact the Consular Section of the Embassy or Consulate General of Japan that is closest to you.

Who can apply for the visa?

All foreign students coming to study full time in Japan for more than 3 months must have a visa.

Where can you make the application?

Japanese Embassy

The first part of the application process is done through your university. You will get your visa from the Japanese Embassy in your home country.


How to make the application?

Applying for a student visa to Japan is a multiple-step process.

1. First, you fill in different visa application documents and submit them to your school. Once you apply to a school they will send you the following documents that you need to fill in and submit to the school:

  • An application form where you fill in data about yourself and the course.
  • A personal history form where you fill in your educational and occupational history.
  • Application essay - motivate why you want to study in Japan.
  • Diploma and transcript from the last school you have graduated from, translated into English or Japanese.
  • Certificate of previous Japanese studies if applicable.
  • A copy of your passport
  • Passport photos
  • Medical history - some schools ask for your medical history or tuberculosis check-up but many schools don’t.
  • You also need to prove that you can pay for your course and support yourself in Japan.

2. The school checks that your application is complete before they rewrite it and submit it to the immigration authorities in Japan. About one month before your course starts they will issue a Certificate of Enrollment (CoE). The school will send you the CoE as soon as it has been issued and you have paid for your first semesters.

3. The final step to get a student visa to Japan is to make the visa application at the Japanese Embassy in your home country. To do this you need to submit:

  • Your CoE
  • Your passport
  • A passport photo
  • A visa application form filled in digitally or by hand using block letters.

When should you apply?

University deadline for visa applications is often about five months before the course starts, so make sure to apply earlier. High-ranking language schools and universities sometimes can take later applications too.

It takes a minimum of 5 working days to process the visa including the date of submission. You should also not apply before 90 days from intended date of travel.

Processing time

5 Days

Work opportunities

The Japanese student visa allows part-time work for up to 28 hours per week.

Anyone with a student visa staying longer than 6 months and wishing to work must submit an application for “Permission to Engage in Activity Other Than That Permitted by the Status of Residence Previously Granted.” This can be done immediately upon arrival at the airport or later on at a local immigration bureau. There is no fee, so make sure to do so if you plan on working.

Hours per week


Why do you need this type of visa?

If you submit a complete application you will almost always get your visa from the Japanese Embassy. However, they can deny you if the information is incomplete or if you, for example, have some serious criminal record.

Here are some things to keep in mind to avoid a denial of a Japanese student visa:

  • Perhaps the biggest risk of rejection is due to insufficient sponsorship requirements.
  • Only one school can apply on your behalf for a student visa! If you try to hedge your bets by applying through multiple schools, you will probably get rejected.
  • Please remember not to staple your documents.
  • An incomplete file will be refused, remember to thoroughly check your application.