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Depositions in Japan

Depositions in Japan

Depositions are controlled by detailed agreements between the United States and the Government of Japan, and procedures cannot be modified or circumvented. Orders by U.S. courts cannot compel the Government of Japan to amend or deviate from its judicial regulations and procedures. In addition, the Embassy cannot compel the Government of Japan to act faster, or in a way more convenient or beneficial to any party, even with a U.S. court order requesting such action.

Japanese law and practice, and the mutually agreed upon interpretation of the United States – Japan Consular Convention concerning obtaining evidence in Japan, permits the taking of a deposition of a willing witness for use in a court in the United States only if:

  1. the deposition is presided over by a U.S. consular officer (in order for the consular officer to preside over the deposition, it must be conducted in the English language);
  2. the deposition is taken pursuant to a U.S. court order or commission; and
  3. any non-Japanese participant traveling to Japan applies for and obtains a Japanese special deposition visa.

The best way to ensure the success of your deposition is by carefully reading these instructions, and carefully following the steps outlined below.


Availability of Deposition Rooms

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions, in-person depositions have been suspended until further notice. Video depositions of witnesses located in Japan may be available on an extremely limited basis and subject to prior approval of the Japanese authorities. Japanese government approval is not guaranteed.

If you are a party to litigation, or counsel to a party to litigation, and are prepared to secure a court order for a deposition, then please provide the information requested in the inquiry form below to tokyoacs@state.gov if you wish to reserve the deposition room in Tokyo, and AOK@state.gov for reservations for Osaka.  Incomplete requests will not be considered.

When filling out the inquiry form, please note:

  • when indicating your desired deposition dates, that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Japan are closed on both U.S. and Japanese holidays;
  • The occupancy capacity of the deposition rooms in Tokyo and Osaka is five people.  Please take this into account when determining who you intend to have physically present in the deposition room. Because of considerations related to social distancing and other logistical and security burdens, the deposition room is limited to five people.  We have had successful video depositions where video/stenographers and interpreters join remotely from the U.S. or Japan.  Attorneys who have traveled to Japan have also consulted with the witnesses in person, but then joined the deposition remotely.  There are a number of configurations you can consider to meet the five-person maximum.

Download the form here. (MS-Word Document).  *In addition to the information requested in this form, the Japanese government will also require a court order from you in order to provide its approval. Please refer to the “Court order / commission” instructions below and provide it to us as soon as it’s available.

Please note we do not take voluntary depositions on written questions due to limited staffing.

Tokyo:
2022
September 1 ~October 7
October 13 ~

Osaka:
2022
August 18~
September 1~


Overview of the Deposition Process

Fee payment

The following fees are required for consular actions during depositions according to Title 21, Chapter 22, Part 1.52 of the Code of Federal Regulations:

1. Non-refundable reservation fee: $1,283

The reservation fee is not refundable even if the deposition is later canceled. This covers the consular officer’s services, as well as staff time committed to scheduling the deposition, communication with requesting counsel by telephone, fax or email, and coordination with Japanese authorities. If rescheduled, another non-refundable reservation fee will be charged. The Embassy or Consulate General cannot confirm a reservation for a deposition until we receive the reservation fee.

2. Consular Hourly Rates/Costs: $309 per hour plus expenses

The statutory fee for consular services is assessed in minimum increments of one hour. Additional $309.00 per hour fees may be charged if additional consular time is expended during the deposition beyond the time originally estimated. Any unused portion from your deposit will be refunded.

3. Deposition Closing Certificate Fee and Postage: $415

Actual costs for postage and packing materials must be received in advance before transcripts can be forwarded. The Embassy and Consulate General may require a deposit for postage and packing costs, from which any unexpended monies will be refunded.

Court order / commission

The court order/commission bearing the seal of the court must:

  • include the names of all persons to be deposed;
  • be addressed to “ANY CONSUL OR VICE CONSUL OF THE UNITED STATES ASSIGNED TO TOKYO, JAPAN” or “ANY CONSUL OR VICE CONSUL OF THE UNITED STATES ASSIGNED TO OSAKA, JAPAN” as appropriate and worded “ON OR ABOUT” a date for maximum flexibility in scheduling; and
  • must be received by the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General in advance of the deposition.

See sample commission text here (PDF 15KB).

Special Deposition Visa

The availability of video depositions should curtail the need for travel. However, if absolutely necessary, participants planning to travel to Japan for the deposition must obtain a “special deposition visa” at the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Apply for the visa at least two weeks prior to departure and, in addition to presenting a photocopy of the commission or court order with the name of the traveler, U.S. passport, completed Japanese visa application, and photos, include the following information on letterhead: 1) the name and location of the court; 2) name and occupation of each witness; and 3) a summary of the case.

It is imperative that you inform the Embassy or Consulate of the intent for any U.S. citizen to travel to Japan for purposes of the deposition, as the Japanese Foreign Ministry will consult with the Embassy/Consulate on these visa applications.

Foreign Attorneys Residing in Japan

U.S. citizen attorneys residing in Japan under the status of “legal/accounting services” (as “gaikokuho jimubengoshi”), “permanent residents,” or “spouse or child of Japanese national” may participate in depositions under their current visa status (i.e., without a special deposition visa). However, the Embassy will be required to inform the Japanese Foreign Ministry of their proposed participation and will provide you with a worksheet soliciting required information with respect to each such attorney’s proposed participation.

Stenography, Interpretation, Videography etc.

We do not supply and cannot arrange for interpreters, court reporters, videographers, etc. Please use the links below for services that you can contract independently. We do not endorse or recommend any particular service, but provide these lists for informational purposes only. Other providers may also be available.

Security Guidelines and Access Requirements

Your use of the deposition room falls under the general security guidelines that govern all visitors to the Embassy. Please note:

Electronic Equipment:

  • The deposition room is equipped with one hard-wired Internet circuit/ethernet port, and no Wi-Fi capability. The Embassy and Consulate General do not provide any equipment or equipment operators and participants will be expected to bring all equipment for purposes of carrying out a video deposition.
  • You may not bring any electronic devices into the Embassy or Consulate General unless they are pre-approved, and we will request detailed information from you regarding all electronic equipment proposed to be taken into the Embassy or Consulate.
  • Please note that even if an electronic device is pre-approved, Bluetooth must be disabled while at the Embassy or Consulate. Any removable PCM card, USB device, router, or smart card providing wireless/Bluetooth functionality must be removed from the computer or electronic device for the period while the computer or electronic device is on the premises, and any non-removable wireless/Bluetooth functionality must be turned off.
  • No photographs are allowed in or around U.S. diplomatic facilities.
  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Embassy or Consulate General.
  • You may not bring food or drinks into the Embassy or Consulate General. Vending machines are available in the building.
  • Restrooms and a drinking fountain are available just outside the deposition room.
  • Photocopiers are not available for deposition use. See Depositions at U.S. Embassy Tokyo and Depositions at U.S. Consulate General Osaka-Kobe for a location of photocopiers near the Embassy and Consulate General.
  • We are unfortunately unable to take phone messages, make calls or send/receive faxes for you.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in removal from the premises and/or a subsequent ban.


Other Judicial Assistance Information

Note, If you are a U.S. government official/attorney participating in a deposition in Japan, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs for Overseas Citizen Services of the Bureau of Consular Affairs (ASK-OCS-L@state.gov) and the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (tokyoacs@state.gov) prior to travel.

For additional questions, please contact the Office of Legal Affairs for Overseas Citizen Services, U.S. Department of State, at ASK-OCS-L@state.gov.