Japan’s 1st legal assistance office for foreigners to launch in Nov.

A legal office in Tokyo will set up next week a new section specializing in providing legal assistance to foreign residents in Japan, focusing on individual needs of foreigners, the office said Monday.

The Tokyo Public Law Office will launch the section on Nov. 1, in the first such attempt by a bar association in Japan to offer legal services for individual foreigners who have limited access to lawyers because of the language barrier, lack of information and cultural differences, it said.

Although there are many multinational law offices in Japan, they mainly cater to corporations and business clients, the office said, adding that lawyers in Japan also tend to hesitate to take the cases involving individual foreigners, as many cases require detailed knowledge of the immigration law and laws outside Japan.

The public law office was established in 2002 with assistance from the Tokyo Bar Association to conduct various pro-bono activities. It said the new section is in response to rising needs for legal assistance from more than 2 million foreign residents in Japan.

Although the new section will provide legal access to residents in Tokyo and around, it will work in close cooperation with the Lawyers Network for Foreigners, a nationwide network of lawyers handling foreign cases, to reach out to residents living outside of Tokyo as well, the office said.

The new section will offer a free legal consultation by about 30 lawyers next Sunday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at its office in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward and via telephone in Japanese, English, Korean, French, Spanish and Chinese.

On-site consultation, which requires telephone reservation at 03-5979-2880, is also provided in Portuguese, Indonesian, Bengali, Thai, Tagalog and Burmese on Sunday.