April marked the start of the year for schools and many companies in Japan — a month when many newcomers from overseas arrive in the country, just in time for the cherry blossom season.
If you are one of these new arrivals, a lot will be fresh and unfamiliar, and that, unfortunately, applies to the problems you may face as well as the positive aspects of your new life here. Even long-term residents are not immune to complications related to their visa status, work, money, family and so on. With this in mind, I thought it would be timely to take this opportunity to share some tips on how to use legal services in Japan.
First, the national and local tiers of government offer a range of free counseling services in English and other languages. The Immigration Bureau operates a number of regional Immigration Information Centers (see No. 1 below) that you can call for general information and “one-stop” information centers in Shinjuku (2); Urawa, Chiba Prefecture; and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. These centers can offer advice on a variety of issues, not just those related to immigration.
If you believe your human rights have been violated, whether it is related to discrimination, bullying, defamation or privacy issues on the Internet, you may want to consult with the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreigners (3). This service is also free.
If you work here, you are protected by Japanes...