INHERITANCE LAW IN JAPAN


 
The principal laws applying to inheritance issues, with particular regard to inheritance by foreigners, are: Act on the General Rules of Application of Laws; Act on Governing Law of Formalities of Wills; Civil Code; Code of Civil Procedure and Domestic Relations Trial Act.

Only the national inheritance laws of the deceased apply. The religion and the nationality of the spouse are not considered in inheritance issues. In Japan, the ownership of real estate is not affected by marriage. If a foreign man is married to a Japanese woman, and he owns real estate in Japan, then his national laws apply to the inheritance of the property, and not Japanese law.

The foreign nationality of an heir does not pose a problem regarding the inheritance of real property in Japan. An heir who is of foreign nationality residing abroad can also own real estate in Japan.

So-called renvoi (when the international private law of a foreigner´s nationality is referred back to Japan) is permitted. If a foreigner´s national law provides that the applicable law in inheritance issues is that of the country where the property in question is located, and this property is in Japan, then Japanese law becomes applicable.

Under the laws of Japan, it is assumed that Japanese inheritance law always applies to a decedent who has Japanese nationality, wherever his/her real property is located.

Family Courts deal with inheritance issues

If the case concerns the property of a non-resident deceased foreigner, it is possible to obtain a decision from a Japanese Family Court, if an interested party (heir) wishes to. With respect to property located outside Japan, it is not clear whether a decision made by a Japanese Family Court can be executed outside Japan. Therefore, the courts tend to be reluctant to make a decision in such cases.

The time to reach a decision is influenced by the case´s difficulty, the amount of inherited property, the number of the heirs, etc. So it is not possible to generalize. A little under 40% of the cases were resolved within six months, a little under 70% of the cases were resolved within one year and a little under 90% of the cases were resolved within two years by settlement, withdrawal or otherwise, according to judicial statistics disclosed in 2007 by the Supreme Court of Japan, with regard to conciliations for partition of estates at Family Courts.

Provisions of the Japanese Civil Code

Because Japanese law specifies that a foreigner´s national law applies to inheritance issues, the provisions of the Japanese Civil Code do not apply to foreigners. Therefore, the following provisions of the Japanese Civil Code are provided here merely for reference. The legally reserved portion applies to the residual property remaining, after the deduction of obligations.

The reserved portion claimants, for heirs of a decedent with Japanese nationality, are as follows:

One half of the property in cases of:

1. A child or a lineal descendant only
2. A spouse only
3. A child or a lineal descendant and a spouse
4. A lineal ascendant and a spouse

One third of the property in cases of:

• A lineal ascendant only
Siblings of a decedent are not included in the claimants for legally reserved portions.
The property outside the reserved portion can be freely willed. There is no restriction as to who this residue may be willed to.


Intestacy

If the deceased has not made a will, the case is resolved in accordance with the deceased´s national law.

The measures under the Japanese Civil Code for a decedent with Japanese nationality are provided here for reference. In Japan, if there is no will, the scope and the rank of the heirs of a decedent with Japanese nationality, under the Japanese Civil Code, is as follows:

First, a spouse always becomes an heir.

A spouse becomes a sole heir only if there are no heirs in the first, second or third rank.

The scope of heirs who are relatives by blood, is as follows:

The first rank: a child and his/her lineal descendants (including heirs per stirpes)

The second rank: a lineal ascendant

The third rank: a sibling and his/her child (including heirs per stirpes)

The statutory share in inheritance is as follows:

The first rank (1/2), spouse (1/2)
The second rank (1/3), spouse (2/3)
The third rank (1/4), spouse (3/4)

If a foreigner owns property in Japan, it is advisable to make a local will.

It is unusual to formally make a will in Japan; however, the number of formally made wills has increased in recent years.

There is a system called Family Registration in Japan, which provides public proof of status relationships regarding Japanese citizens - the birth, the parent and child relationship, the adoptive parent and child relationship, the marriage, and the divorce or death, etc., of Japanese citizens. Consequently, it is difficult for foreigners who do not have Family Registration to obtain proof of heirs.

In such cases, if there is no will, the documents that must be prepared to prove the inheritance of an estate in Japan are not available, and it takes time for various procedures such as withdrawing bank deposits.

Such procedures may go smoothly if the foreigner has a will. In addition, in cases where a will by notarized document is made, there is an advantage that changes of title regarding real property become simplified.



A will made in accordance with any of the following laws is valid in Japan:

1. The laws of the place of act (the place where a will is made);

2. The laws of the country of which the testator has nationality at the time of formation of the will or at the time of death;

3. The laws of the place where the testator has an address at the time of formation of the will or at the time of death;

4. The laws of the place where a testator has habitual residence at the time of formation of the will or at the time of death; or

5. With regard to a will concerning real property, the laws of the country where the real property is located

Under the Japanese Civil Code, the ordinary will forms are a will by holographic document, and a will by notarized document

In a will by holographic document, a testator writes the entire text of a will, the date, and his/her name in his/her own hand, and affixes his/her seal. This type of will may be made in any language; however, it is necessary to attach a procedure of registration of real property located in Japan, and to translate the will into Japanese. In addition, although there is a precedent stating that the will is valid even if a seal is not affixed, in the case of a foreigner, such a seal is required.

A will by notarized document is when a notary public takes dictation from the testator, before two or more witnesses. A will by notarized document must generally be made at a notary´s office. However, there is no such restriction for the preparation of a will. Therefore, it is possible to ask for a notary public to come to a hospital or a house to prepare a will. A will by notarized document must be made in Japanese. In this regard, it is possible to have an interpreter attend for a testator who cannot speak Japanese.

For a will by holographic document, it is not necessary for a foreigner to be in Japan. On the other hand, a will by notarized document is made by a notary public who is in Japan, therefore, it is necessary to make such notarial acts in Japan.

The inheritance procedure goes most smoothly if the testator uses the process of creating a will by notarized document, and designates an attorney-at-law in Japan as an executor.

An owner can give away his/her property freely to anyone prior to death, but it can be challenged if it infringes the reserved portion.

Under the Japanese Civil Code, there is no restriction on gifts of property during the owner´s lifetime. However, such gifts can be challenged after death. For example, a challenge may be brought if a claimant has the right to a legally reserved portion. In addition, there is a possibility that an assertion of nullity, or rescission of the manifestation of intention. can be made. In order to avoid such challenges, the donor must be careful not to infringe upon the legally reserved portion of a claimant.

There is a real estate registration system in Japan.

The real estate registration system secures the safety of real estate transactions, by giving public notice of the correct status of rights to real estate. The person who is registered regarding the real property, is treated as the owner in principle.

In the case of inheritance; however, all the heirs are deemed to own the real estate in common to each of them. In order to have the real property belong to a particular heir, and change the registry of the real estate to indicate the heir´s ownership, there must be a valid will or an agreement between all the heirs.

The administration of property for a minor is conducted by a person who has parental authority.

If there is no person with parental authority, or such person has no administration rights for the property, a guardian conducts the administration of property for a minor. A person who last exercised parental authority over a minor and has administration rights for property may appoint a guardian of the minor by will. If there is no guardian appointed in such a manner, a family court, upon request by an interested party, appoints a guardian for the minor.

Japanese Inheritance tax is based on the residence status of the heirs.

An heir who is a foreign national residing abroad is subject to Japanese inheritance tax for such property which is located in the territory of Japan; the typical type of such property is real estate in Japan.

Inheritance tax is levied at progressive rates (up to 50%) on the fair market value of the property inherited minus funeral expenses and taxes. Further deductions are permissible, depending on the status of the heirs.


 
Inheriting from People Born Outside Japan

The Japanese laws regarding inheritance are applicable only if the nationality of the deceased is Japanese. In other words, if the deceased was a foreign national, Japanese laws are not applicable but the laws of their home country are.

In the case of a beneficiary who is the legitimate successor of a foreigner who had assets in Japan such as real estate, the beneficiary could be eligible to inherit the assets in principle. This is provided the succession is legal both in the deceased's home country and Japan.

However, the legal procedures of succession have to be done according to the laws concerned in the home country of the deceased, no matter how many years the deceased lived in Japan or even if the deceased had permanent residency (eiju-sya) before dying. In other words, the successor will need to procure legal documents to verify their right to inherit the assets. These documents will have to be certified and issued by the relevant authorities in the deceased's home country, and are required in particular when making applications at the Legal Affairs Bureau (houmu-kyoku) in Japan to register real estate inherited.

Legal procedures of real estate registration may be difficult and time-consuming. This is because laws regarding inheritance are different between countries, including the deceased's home country and Japan, so even the Legal Affairs Bureau of Japan would be unable to specify in advance what kind of documents successors will need to procure from the deceased's home country. Also, it is not possible to predict in advance whether those documents are enough to verify a beneficiary’s rights upon registration at the Legal Affairs Bureau of Japan.

This actually means that it may be necessary to hire lawyers both in Japan and in the deceased's home country to take care of document preparations in each country. Our experience as a firm reflects this.

The basic rules described above are still applicable even if the beneficiaries of a foreigner who died in Japan are Japanese nationals. If the beneficiary is a Japanese national and the legitimate successor of a foreigner who died in Japan, the laws of the deceased's home country would still be applicable. As such, the relevant legal procedures according to the foreign governing laws also apply, such as the eligibility and rights of successors, how to verify them, the shares of each successor, procedures for leaving wills and ways of assessing their validity. 

Needless to say, the laws of all countries are different, so the laws of the deceased's home country regarding inheritance will be different from Japan's. Some countries stipulate that the laws governing inheritance are those of the country where the deceased had resided before dying, those of the country where their properties are located or those of the successors’ home country, but there are other possibilities.

If the laws of the deceased’s home country stipulate that the governing laws are eventually those of Japan, the legal procedures of inheritance will be those of Japan. However, even in this case it is likely that the relevant authorities, such as the Legal Affairs Bureau, will need to be provided with relevant information and documents to verify that the deceased's home country stipulates that the laws governing inheritance should eventually be those of Japan.

Inheriting from Japanese Citizens who Died in Japan

If the deceased were Japanese nationals, including foreign-born naturalised citizens of Japan, the inheritance is in principle to proceed according to Japanese law. However, if the successor is an infant, it may be necessary to check the laws of the successor's home country, too.

The basic rules under Japanese inheritance law are as follows:

Successors

Primary Successors: the spouse and children (including adopted children) of the deceased. Grandchildren can be beneficiaries only if the children (the parents of the grandchild) were dead when the inheritance commenced.

Secondary Successors: the parents of the deceased (who may inherit only when there are no primary successors).
Tertiary Successors: brothers and sisters of the deceased (who may be beneficiaries only when there are neither primary nor secondary successors).

Distribution

Distribution of the inheritance amongst primary successors is as follows: 50 percent to the spouse, and the rest is divided equally between each child.

Consent

Consent by successors: there are two elements that can be inherited - assets such as cash, bank deposits and real estate that have positive values, and debts, which have negative values.

Meanwhile, there are two ways for successors to consent how to inherit: simple consent (tanjun-syonin) and limited consent (gentei-syonin). Simple consent is to accept the whole inheritance, including debts and assets. Limited consent is to accept debts with a limitation up to the value of the assets. That means that if the deceased had debts of $150,000 and assets of $100,000, the successor can be exempted from the balance of debts of $50,000, having offset debts against assets under limited consent. In the case that successors want to choose limited consent, all of the successors together (not one by one) need to make an application for limited consent to a family court (katei-saiban-syo).


Renunciation

Renouncing inheritance rights: if a successor wants to renounce their inheritance rights, they need to apply to do so at a family court within three months of the date they came to know that they were a successor, and not within three months of the date that the inheritance commenced. Renouncing inheritance can be done individually, rather than as a group.

Benefits of making a will in Japan by a foreigner with real estate property :

1. It will not be necessary to examine foreign laws when the applicable law is the foreign law

For procedures of international inheritance, at first, it is necessary to decide a governing law according to the private international law of each country. When a will is made in Japan, the inheritance procedure can progress according to the will made in Japan, without requiring the understanding of the complicated concept of private international law or a governing law in a foreign country.

2. It will not be necessary to make an Agreement on Division of Inheritance when the applicable law is the Japanese law

When division of inheritance is required, it is necessary to contact all heirs, as agreement among all the heirs will be required for an inheritance procedure. However, when heirs reside outside of Japan, a legal expert in Japan, who is hired for the inheritance procedure in regards to Japanese real estate, may face difficulty during the process with the division of inheritance due to the difficulty or impossibility of contacting or communicating with such heirs in a foreign country. When the deceased has a will in Japan, a Japanese legal expert will be able to avoid such difficulties as having a will makes it possible to avoid having to make an Agreement on Division of Inheritance.

3. As proof of heirship is the most time consuming part of an inheritance procedure, having a will can expedite the process

When a will exists, an inheritance procedure can be basically advance with only the heirs designated in a will. However, in the case of a person dying without a will, proof of heirship becomes necessary as all heirs-at-law have claim to a portion of the inheritance. Japan has a family register system and the means to prove the family make-up from the birth and till the death of a Japanese national by using public documents. In most of foreign countries, that don’t have a similar family register system, heirship is proved by with a marriage certificate or a birth certificate in the case of the real estate inheritance registration. But having such proof of heirship does not mean that all the heirs-at-law have been found, and so you will have to make a document certifying that there are no other heirs.

4. Helps lower the language hurdle

There are very few Japanese legal experts on inheritance law who speak English. But in order to contact foreign heirs in an inheritance procedure, a legal expert may need to speak to them in English in most cases. When a person dies without a will, a legal expert needs to contact all the heirs-at-law to explain Japanese inheritance procedures. And moreover in the case of division of inheritance, a legal expert will need to get the consent of all heirs, and in order to do so will need to have a high level of English communication ability. In a situation such as this an heir will need both time and money sufficient for hiring an expert to help facilitate the process.

5. To avoid any problems due to lack of understanding of international inheritance laws by Japanese courts, registration officials, and other public institutions

One of the reasons why there are very few legal experts that speak English in Japan is that it has not been necessary for them to speak English thus far. The same can be said about the public institutions that have a lack of understanding of international inheritance laws even though more and more foreigners are becoming real estate owners in Japan. A public institution usually focuses on performing their daily operations according to the Japanese laws and rules, so when there is a case involving international inheritance, in which a fixed set of rules have not been established, the staff will have to handle each specific case individually. In the event a person who dies has a will, the person in charge of the inheritance procedures will only need to follow the description of the will which minimizes any questions or uncertainties in the inheritance process.



Legally secured portion

When a will exists, a matter to keep in mind is that of “legally secured portion”. The heirs-at-law, other than siblings of the deceased, have the right to a legally secured portion of the inheritance. The exception is when only a parent of the deceased becomes an heir-at-law, the said heirs-at-law can claim the right of inheritance equivalent to half of the statutory share in inheritance for each heir-at-law. In this regard, however, the property to be inherited and to be claimed for the right of legally secured portion under the Japanese law shall be the one whose governing law is the Japanese law. And furthermore it should be noted that the right of legally secured portion shall be invalid in principle if the claim for the right is not made within 1 year of being aware of the inheritance.

Statutory Share in Inheritance (if there is no will)

When an inheritance occurs, who inherits what share of an ancestor’s property is prescribed by law in most countries. In Japan, for example, when a husband and wife have 2 children and one spouse dies, the other spouse shall inherit 1/2 and 2 children shall inherit the other 1/2 (1/4 per child). In the event a husband and wife do not have children but do have parents, and one spouse dies, the surviving spouse shall inherit 3/4 and parents shall inherit 1/4. When a husband and wife have neither children nor parents, but have brothers and sisters, and one spouse dies, the surviving spouse shall inherit 3/4 and the brothers and sisters shall inherit 1/4.

But in many cases, even when the inheritance is divided by statutory shares, all the heirs-at-law may decide to hold a legacy division conference after an inheritance occurs, to specifically decide who inherits which property with the consent of all the heirs-at-law. An example would be, Heir A inherits Real estate A and Heir B inherits Real estate B.

Leaving a Will (Testament) in Japan

1. Forms for making a will in Japan

When you make a will, you need to follow a form specified by Japanese Civil Code. If you do not, the will be invalid. There are seven forms of wills which are specified in the Civil Code, however two of them are commonly used: ‘Holograph (Handwritten) will’ and ‘Notary Deed will’.

I) HANDWRITTEN WILL (HOLOGRAPH WILL)

This type of will takes effect when the testator handwrites the full text of the will, the date, and the name all by himself, and stamps the seal (hanko) on it.

The law has changed in 2019, and it is now possible to use PC to create and print some part of the will (specifically, the list of assets).

Advantages of ‘Holograph will’ are:

1) Witnesses and observers are not required
2) Easy and economic

However, there are also disadvantages:

1) Risk of loss, forgery and falsification
2) Risk of being invalid because of mistakes in form
3) Risk of family quarrels over the meaning of expressions in the will
4) You have to write it by yourself (printed documents are not allowed).

II) NOTARY DEED WILL
A will in which a testator should attend one of the offices of notaries (“Koushounin” in Japanese.). It should be done with two (or more) witnesses, and a notary conducts a hearing and makes a will. A copy of the will is kept in the notary’s office, so it is the safest and the most reliable way.

‘Notary Deed will’ costs several thousand yen or more (not including attorney’s fee). However, it poses little risk of family quarrels, and usually the advantage exceeds the disadvantage of the extra cost. In fact, ‘Notary Deed will’ is used about six times as much as ‘handwrittenwill’ in Japan. Generally speaking, ‘Notary Deed will’ is superior to ‘Holograph will’.

With the above reasons, we usually recommend to use ‘Notary Deed will’ to those who consider making a will in Japan.

2. The difference between wills and “statutory inheritance (legal portion)”

We sometimes receive the questions such as

My Japanese husband left a will, and it says that he leaves all of his assets to our first-born son, but I believe that I have the right to get the half of them because I am his wife.

When the deceased person is a Japanese national, it is correct that Article 900 of Civil Code says the wife’s share in inheritance shall be one half. However, this article is applied only when there is no will left. Inheritances to which Article 900 applies are called ‘statutory inheritance’. In this case, because there is a will, Article 900 is not applied.

However, it may be possible for the wife to receive some share from the husband’s assets. The article about “Iryubun” (legally reserved portion) is in the Civil Code.  For the case written above, the wife has the right for 1/4, calculated as follows;

1/2 (Statutory inheritance) ×1/2 (Rate of Statutory reserved share) = 1/4 (Statutory reserved share)

3. Will by foreign residents

Foreign residents can also make a will in Japan.

If you are a foreign resident, and have assets (such as bank accounts, real estates) in Japan, it is worth considering leaving a will in Japan. It will be much easier for your heirs to handle Japanese procedures with a Japanese will. If there is no will left, there may be a lot of difficulties, even for just getting money from bank accounts. Also, it is strongly advised to get the will notarized at the public notary office (koushou-yakuba). 

If the will is not notarized, then the heir will have to bring the will to Japanese family court, to get it checked by a judge.

Probate

What is probate?

Probate is the legal procedure by which the court system determines if someone’s will and the testaments within the will are legal and valid. This is similar to issues in contract law whereby, say for example two parties agree to and sign a contract, but then a judge later rules that the entire agreement, or at least one item in the contract, is not valid. A judge can make similar rulings when reviewing the validity of a will. The next part of the probate process involves the court appointing an executor or administrator to oversee the sorting out the deceased’s financial affairs. This involves paying any remaining debts or other liabilities, and then disbursing the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries. Probate as a process can however differ, and this is largely determined by whether the deceased has a will, or if they never authored a will or it is incomplete.

Probate if there is a will

As to be expected, it is a much simpler and straightforward process if the deceased does in fact have a will. In this case the custodian of the will, often the deceased’s lawyer, must bring the will to the probate court within a certain amount of time, typically within 30 days. The court will then determine the will’s validity and legality. At this point the will can be deemed completely invalid, or the judge can invalidate specific points or aspects of the will. For instance, if the will was authored when grandpa or grandma was clearly not of sound mind and judgement, or if the will was written while he or she was under extreme duress, the will can be thrown out. In most cases, the will is upheld, it is deemed to be the deceased’s last testament, and the executor to the will is named. The executor, usually a family member named in the will, then has the full legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased to administer the payments of debts and disbursements of assets to beneficiaries.

Probate if there is no will

Probate, if the will is nonexistent or incomplete, can then become both a complicated and expensive endeavor. In the instance whereby there is no valid will to go by, the probate court will appoint an administrator to act on behalf of the deceased. Their job is to pay any and all outstanding taxes or debts of the estate from the estate’s remaining assets, as well as hear any claims against the estate. Disbursement of remaining assets then falls to local or federal law, from which the rules among countries, or even within    different parts of a country, can vary widely.

While local law will tend to designate which surviving family members receive which portion of the estate, because the deceased has not explicitly stated who gets what and who doesn’t get what, the probate court can also hear any claims from potential non-family beneficiaries. This can lead to family members not receiving at all what they hoped or expected, or at the very least they could find themselves in long and expensive legal battles with people or businesses to whom their deceased relative allegedly owed money. All the while, court fees and private legal fees can add up rather quickly, continually eroding away the estate and putting the family in a weak negotiating position, therefore more likely to cave to demands from creditors.

Even more onerous than threats against the estate from without, are those going after the inheritance from within. Even the most amicable of families can find themselves in minor disputes that escalate out of control into drawn out arguments over the disbursement of inheritance assets. This will not only cost a great deal of time and money in legal and court fees to resolve, but could deal permanent damage to the family relationships.

For these reasons, even those early in their career with a smaller amount of personal assets should consider at least basic estate planning. Getting started sooner and planning ahead can save a tremendous amount of money and headache in the future. Two examples of this would be to write a will, even if it is a simple one. Although establishing a will in Japan is complicated, expensive, and usually quite difficult to enforce, if you have assets in your home country or elsewhere outside of Japan, legal templates for basic wills enforceable in specific jurisdictions can be found online for free or minimal cost.

Another option would be to hold a certain portion of your assets in a structure that can potentially bypass probate, paying out predetermined by you percentages of the account to your designated beneficiaries, such as an international life insurance policy. Higher end estate planning can involve setting up holding companies, trusts, and foundations; which is something you can always transition to in the future if or when you reach that level.



 
Inheritance Taxes

What types of inheritance taxes are there in Japan?

In general, inheritance taxes apply to property, money, or assets. The following types of properties might be included in a Japanese inheritance:
1. Personal property
2. Ship or aircraft
3. Mining or quarry rights
4. Fishing concession rights
5. Bank deposits
6. Insurance proceeds
7. Retirement allowances
8. Loans
9. Shares in a bond or company
10. Investment interest
11. Patents, copyrights and trademarks
12. Japanese government bonds or foreign government bonds
13. Trade receivables

All of these properties might be taxable, depending on if they are located in Japan. Japan has certain rules to determine this, for instance, for a personal property is depends where the property is located, for fishing concession rights it depends on which place of the coast is nearest to the fishing grounds, and for bank deposits it depends on the location of the office where the deposit was made.

Who has to pay inheritance tax in Japan?

All heirs, and recipients of a gift, who live in Japan have to pay inheritance and/or gift tax, regardless of their nationality. If an heir is a Japanese national but doesn’t live in Japan, they’re subject to Japanese inheritance taxes if either the heir or the deceased lived in Japan within 10 years before the date of passing. This same rule applies to givers of a gift and their recipients, if either the gift-giver or recipient has lived in Japan in the 10 years before the donation, the recipient of the gift will be fully liable to    pay tax. Even when you’re not a Japanese national and don’t live in Japan, but the deceased or person who gives you a gift is living in Japan at the time of passing or at the time of donation, or has done so in the preceding 10 years, you’re fully liable for tax purposes.

When do I have to pay inheritance tax?

You have 10 months from the date of death to file and pay any tax debts owed on your new inheritance. If you’re a non-resident of Japan, you’ll need to appoint a local tax representative to help you.

Non-resident inheritance tax

Expatriates who are staying temporarily with a table 1 visa in Japan are required to pay tax only on an inheritance or gift they receive, that is located in Japan. The law defines short-term foreigners as those who have resided in Japan for no more than 10 out of the past 15 years.



How high are inheritance taxes in Japan?

Inheritance tax in Japan is based on the residence status of the individual. Beneficiaries are subject to inheritance tax on property they received if they are domiciled in Japan. If, however, beneficiaries are not domiciled in Japan, they are still subject to inheritance tax if the property that they inherited is situated in Japan. Still, a non-domiciled person could still be subject to inheritance tax if he has a Japanese nationality and if he or the donor had lived in Japan at any time within 5 years before the deceased´s death. The registration tax rate for entrusting real estate is 0.4% on the appraised value of the property.

Inheritance tax is levied at progressive rates on the fair market value of the property inherited less funeral expenses and taxes. Further deductions are allowed, depending on the status of the heir/s:

JPY10 million (US$91,743) for each statutory heir

JPY160 million (US$1,467,890) for the surviving spouse

Table showing Inheritance Tax in Japan:
 
TAX BASE, JPY (US$)
TAX RATE
Up to 10 million (US$91,743)
10%
10 million – 30 million (US$270,270)
15%
30 million – 50 million (US$458,716)
20%
50 million – 100 million (US$917,43
30%
100 million – 300 million (US$2,752,293)
40%
Over 300 million (US$2,752,293)
50%
Over 600 million (US$2,752,293)
55%

What are inheritance and gift tax regime (including tax base, rates, filing formalities and any exemptions, reliefs or deductions?

Inheritance tax and gift tax are imposed based on the Inheritance Tax Act:

Japanese national and resident taxpayers, if they are an heir or a donee, are subject to Japanese inheritance and gift tax on worldwide (ie, Japanese and non-Japanese) assets acquired by inheritance, bequest or gift.

Taxpayers who are a Japanese nationals but not Japanese residents are taxed only on Japanese assets, unless either the deceased, heir or donee resided in Japan at any time during the 10 year period preceding the commencement of the inheritance, bequest or gift.

Taxpayers who are neither Japanese national or Japanese resident are taxed only on Japanese assets, unless the deceased resided in Japan at any time during the 10-year period preceding the commencement of the inheritance, bequest or gift. In an attempt to discourage avoidance of inheritance and gift tax on non-Japanese assets by becoming non-resident or even non-Japanese national, waiting periods have increased:

• from five to 10 years for taxpayers who are Japanese national but not Japanese resident; and

• to 10 years for taxpayers who are neither Japanese national nor Japanese resident.

Since 2015 the marginal inheritance tax rate is 55% of the total value of the inherited assets succeeded to by an heir as a taxpayer exceeds Y600 million. Standard deductions for inheritance tax were also significantly reduced from 2015. The marginal tax rate of gift tax is 55% of the total value of the gifted assets of a donee as a taxpayer exceeds Y30 million.




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