The Product Regulation and Liability Review: Japan
Introduction to the product liability framework
Japan is a civil law country, with a unified national legal and court system under a single Supreme Court. National statutes are the main source of law for civil liability, but court precedents also play an important role in filling gaps and clarifying the meaning of statutes.
Initially, the core source of civil liability for defective products was tort liability under the Civil Code, Law No. 89 of 1896 (CC). However, to mitigate difficulties faced by victims of defective products in establishing tort claims against manufacturers and other entities responsible for product defects, the Product Liability Act, Law No. 85 of 1994 (the PL Act), was enacted to create strict liability (i.e., requiring no proof of negligence in association with the defect) in product liability claims. Tort liability can also be pursued even if claims under the PL Act are available to the victim.2
Multiple administrative statutes also play an important role in the area of product liability. The purposes of these administrative statutes are as follows:
- to prevent defective products from being distributed in the market (e.g., government approval and licensing systems);
- to prevent defective products in the market from causing damage or injury to consumers (e.g., recall and remedy systems); and
- to provide prompt and effective relief to consumers who have actually suffered losses as a result of defective products (e.g., special measures or relief for losses caused by defective products and a compulsory insurance system).
National courts decide the civil liability of the responsible entities by applying the relevant provisions of the CC and the PL Act, as described in Section I. In respect of the administrative regulations, various administrative authorities oversee the safety of different categories of products, as explained below.
i Food safety
The Food Sanitation Act, Law No. 233 of 1947, governs administrative matters to prevent public health risks arising from human consumption of food. It is administered by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and the Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA). The Act provides standards for methods of producing, processing, using, cooking or preserving food and additives; standards for the ingredients used in food and additives; and procedures for investigating the causes of food poisoning and for reporting the results of investigations. The Act was revised in 2018 and fully enforced in 2021 to enhance food safety, including a new cooperative system among administrative bodies for dealing with food poisoning; new standards for sanitation management in accordance with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points); advance notification required for business relevant to food, except for that with low sanitation risk; and a mandatory recall reporting system.3 In 2013, the Food Labelling Act, Law No. 70 of 2013, was enacted to regulate the mandatory labelling system for food and additives, incorporating the regulations provided by the Food Sanitation Act; the Act on Standardization and Proper Quality Labelling of Agricultural and Forestry Products, Law No. 175 of 1950; and the Health Promotion Act, Law No. 103 of 2002. The Food Labelling Act entered into force in 2015 and its regulations on food and additives are administered by the CAA. The Food Labelling Act was revised in 2018 and entered into force in 2021 and introduced a mandatory recall reporting system.4
ii Drug safety
Drugs, quasi-drugs, cosmetics and medical instruments are regulated by the Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Products Including Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, Law No. 145 of 1960, as amended by Law No. 84 of 2013 (the PMD Act). The MHLW administers the PMD Act. The PMD Act provides regulations concerning labelling, manufacturing methods, and false or exaggerated advertising of products. It is necessary to obtain approval from the minister of the MHLW to manufacture and market drugs and quasi-drug ingredients covered by this Act.5 The Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Agency conducts safety testing of these products. The PMD Act was revised in 2019 and entered into force in 2021 and introduced administrative fines to further regulate false or exaggerated advertising of products.6
iii Industrial product safety
An important statute establishing regulations for industrial products is the Consumer Product Safety Act, Law No. 31 of 1973 (the CPS Act). The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the CAA administer the CPS Act. The CPS Act provides a certification system called 'PSC marks', which mandate that manufacturers of products that pose high risk to the lives and bodies of consumers must comply with technical standards determined by the government, and require the placement of labels that satisfy national standards on those products.7 If a product lacks the required labelling, the government can order that certain measures be taken, including the recall of the product.8 If a product has caused a serious accident, the manufacturer and importer of the product must report the occurrence to the CAA.9 The CAA might then announce these incidents to the public.10 The CPS Act also provides certain measures to prevent accidents caused by prolonged use of products.11 Incidents that are not serious must be reported to the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation.
Other important, relevant statutes are the Electrical Appliances and Materials Safety Act, Law No. 234 of 1961; the Act on the Securing of Safety and the Optimization of Transaction of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Law No. 149 of 1967; and the Gas Business Act, Law No. 51 of 1954. The METI administers these acts, which also provide for certification systems similar to PSC marks under the CPS Act.
iv Vehicle safety
The Road Transport Vehicle Act, Law No. 185 of 1951 (the RTV Act), provides measures to ensure the safety of vehicles. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) administers the RTV Act. The RTV Act requires that users of vehicles comply with mandatory safety standards that are issued by the MLIT under the RTV Act,12 and also provides recall systems for manufacturers and importers of vehicles, tyres and child restraint seats that do not satisfy the mandatory safety standards.13 The RTV Act was revised in 2019 to include additional provisions to ensure the safe operation of autonomous vehicles.14
v The Consumer Safety Act and the Consumer Affairs Agency
The administrative regimes explained above, depending on the category of the products, had shortfalls by which defective products were not regulated because the relevant products or defects inadvertently were not covered by the existing regimes. In response, in 2009, the government enacted the Consumer Safety Act, Law No. 50 of 2009, and created the CAA, to comprehensively administer matters relating to the protection of consumers, including protection from defective products. Under the Consumer Safety Act, when the national or local government, or another relevant government entity, is informed that a serious accident has occurred, the person in charge at those entities must immediately notify the CAA of the accident.15 The CAA then collects information on the accident and responds with responsive measures.16
Causes of action
The PL Act defines a 'product' as a movable item that is manufactured or processed.17 Therefore, unprocessed agricultural products are not subject to the PL Act.
The PL Act applies to manufacturers, processors and importers (the Manufacturer).18 The PL Act also applies to any person who provides his or her name, trademark or other indication on a product as its Manufacturer, and any person who provides his or her name, trademark or other indication on a product in a manner that misleads others into believing that he or she is its Manufacturer.19 The PL Act also applies to any person who provides his or her name, trademark or other indication on a product and who may be considered substantially as the Manufacturer of a product in light of the manner and other circumstances under which the product is manufactured, processed, imported or sold.20 The PL Act will not provide a cause of action against distributors or sellers of a product if those persons are not among the entities specified above. Therefore, civil claims against distributors and sellers of a defective product (i.e., entities that may owe direct contractual liability to consumers) must be brought based on a warranty against defects, breaches of contract or tort under the CC.
To prove liability under the PL Act, a plaintiff must establish:
- a defect in the product;
- damage to life, body or property; and
- a causal link between the defect and the damage (i.e., causation).21
'Defect' is defined under the PL Act to mean a lack of safety that the product ordinarily should possess, taking into account the nature of the product, the ordinarily foreseeable manner of use of the product, the time the product was delivered and other circumstances concerning the product.22 'Defect' is interpreted to include defects in manufacture, design, and instructions or warnings. As mentioned above, it is said that the PL Act creates strict liability. However, the Supreme Court of Japan reviewed the foreseeability of the injury from the perspective of the defendant company and denied the existence of defective instructions or warnings in re Iressa, whereby a Japanese subsidiary of a UK pharmaceutical company was sued for an alleged defect in its drug, stating that it was unforeseeable that 'Iressa had the side effect of causing interstitial pneumonia which could rapidly become severe.'23
The Acts described in Section II provide for administrative sanctions against the responsible party where applicable. In respect of criminal liability, if a failure to exercise due care causes death or injury, a criminal penalty may be imposed on the responsible individual under the Penal Code, Law No. 45 of 1907.24
Conflict-of-law issues often arise in cross-border product liability cases. Japanese courts determine the applicable law by applying the Act on General Rules for Application of Laws, Law No. 78 of 2006 (AGRAL), the Japanese code concerning conflict-of-law rules. AGRAL establishes the general rule that where a claim against a manufacturer, processor, importer, exporter, distributor or seller of a product arises from a tort involving injury to life, body or property caused by a defect in the product that is delivered, the claim shall be governed by the law of the place where the victim received delivery of the product.25 However, AGRAL also provides for an exception to this general rule, stating that if delivery of the product at a certain place is ordinarily unforeseeable, the law of the principal place of business of the manufacturer (or the other entities mentioned above) shall apply.26
Civil product liability claims are determined by professional judges in national courts. No jury system exists for civil litigation in Japan.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures also play an important role in resolving civil product liability claims in Japan. Some industries have established their own 'product liability centres' intended to resolve civil product liability claims through ADR, such as the Electric Home Appliances PL Centre and the Automotive Dispute Resolution Centre. In addition, the National Consumer Affairs Centre of Japan manages an ADR procedure that deals with product liability matters.
ii Burden of proof
During civil proceedings, plaintiffs must prove each required element of a product liability claim. In respect of the issue of how much proof is necessary for the judges to be persuaded (the degree of proof), the Supreme Court of Japan defined the required degree of proof in Miura v. Japan, a medical malpractice case.28 In that case, the Supreme Court found that causation of a patient's injury resulted from the negligence of a doctor based on the following standard:
Proving causation in litigation, unlike proving causation in the natural sciences (which permits no doubt at any point), requires proof of a high degree of probability that certain facts have induced the occurrence of a specific result by taking into necessary and sufficient account that the judge has been persuaded of the truthfulness to a degree where an average person would have no doubt.
It is difficult to express the required degree of persuasion using a numerical formula, given the standard of 'proof of a high degree of probability'. The Japanese standard is generally considered to be higher than a preponderance of evidence, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.
If a claim is brought under the PL Act, the defendant may be exempt from liability if the defendant successfully proves that the defect in the product could not have been discovered given the state of scientific or technical knowledge at the time the product was delivered (the 'development risk' or 'state of the art' defence).29 Furthermore, where the product is used as a component of or an ingredient for another finished product, a manufacturer of the component or ingredient that is named as a defendant may be exempt from liability if the defendant successfully proves that the defect occurred primarily owing to compliance with instructions that were given by the manufacturer of the finished product, and that the defendant was not negligent in respect of the occurrence of the defect.30
In addition, the PL Act provides for the following limitations on the period after which a claim under the PL Act will be extinguished:
- if the victim does not exercise his or her claim within three years (five years if there was harm to life or body) of the time when he or she (or his or her legal representative) becomes aware of the damage and the party liable for the damages; or
- after 10 years have elapsed from the time the product was delivered. In cases involving damage caused by substances that become harmful to human health when they accumulate in the body, or damage whose symptoms appear after a certain latent period, this 10-year period is calculated from the time when the damage occurred.31
As with tort claims under the CC, the prescriptive period is three years (five years if there was harm to life or body) from the time the victim (or his or her legal representative) becomes aware of the damage and the identity of the perpetrator.32 A tort claim also cannot be brought when 20 years (or more) have elapsed from the time of the tortious act.33
Plaintiffs' own negligence may be considered on the determination of the amount of damages, and can be asserted in defending a product liability claim as a defence of comparative negligence, either under the PL Act or as a tort claim under the CC.34
Compliance with applicable regulations is considered one of the important factors in determining whether there is a defect in a product; however, non-compliance or compliance with applicable regulations, by itself, will not automatically give rise to or preclude liability.35
A majority of US states recognise the 'learned intermediary doctrine', which states that a manufacturer of prescription medications and devices is released of its duty to warn users of the risks associated with its products upon warning the prescribing physician of the proper use and risks of the manufacturer's product. The Supreme Court of Japan, in re Iressa, in denying the existence of defective instructions or warnings, stated that 'it was known at least among physicians engaged in anti-cancer therapy targeting lung cancer that when interstitial pneumonia occurred owing to the administration of these drugs, including anti-cancer drugs, it could be fatal'.36 This ruling of the Supreme Court is arguably similar to the learned intermediary doctrine referenced above, in that the Court considered the knowledge of the addressee of the information in determining whether a defect existed in the instructions or warnings for the product.
iv Personal jurisdiction
No specific provision for product liability claims
The Japanese Code of Civil Procedure, Law No. 109 of 1996 (CCP), contains a set of rules for domestic and international jurisdiction applicable to litigation in Japanese courts, but does not include an express provision for product liability claims. Under the prevalent view, product liability claims are classified as tort claims for purposes of determining jurisdiction. In respect of international jurisdiction over tort claims, the CCP provides that the Japanese court has jurisdiction if the tort took place in Japan, unless the claim involves a wrongful act committed in a foreign country where the resulting damage occurred in Japan and the occurrence of such a result in Japan was ordinarily unforeseeable.37 Jurisdiction over international product liability claims will be determined pursuant to this provision. The stream-of-commerce doctrine, discussed in US courts, was not introduced when the CCP was revised to include international jurisdiction provisions in 2011.38
The place where the tort took place
This phrase generally includes both the place where the wrongful act occurred and the place where the result occurred. The place of the wrongful act includes the place where the product was manufactured. Unless an advertisement on the internet constitutes part of the wrongful act, the advertisement itself does not constitute a basis for the jurisdiction of Japanese courts. On some occasions, allowing international jurisdiction at the place where the result of the tort occurred will cause substantial difficulties for the defendants. In those circumstances, it is likely that Japanese courts will not exercise international jurisdiction over the defendants as an exception to the general rule.39
The CCP has a set of provisions providing procedures for the examination of court-appointed experts. Where the issues to be determined by judges are highly specialised and difficult, the court can appoint experts to assist the judges with fact-finding.40 The court may order the expert to provide his or her opinion to the court in writing or orally. When an expert provides his or her opinion orally, the court may give both parties an opportunity to examine the expert for the purposes of impeaching an unfavourable opinion or to restore the credibility of a favourable opinion.
In Japanese practice, parties to litigation frequently find their own private experts and have them author expert opinions addressed to the court. The parties may also request to examine experts before the court. Technically, these private experts are classified as 'witnesses' rather than 'experts' under the CCP because they are not appointed by judges. However, these private experts also perform an important role.
The court may request assistance from experts not only for fact-finding purposes but also to clarify issues and to increase the efficiency of proceedings. To enable the court to obtain this assistance, the court may appoint an expert commissioner to the proceedings.41
No extensive discovery system (as exists in the United States) exists in Japan; only limited document production requests are permitted. The Japanese discovery system, as explained below, is far from being an effective tool for litigants to request useful evidence from the other party or third parties.
Request for document production order
A party may request that the court issue a document production order (DPO) against the other party or third parties. The CCP provides that the possessors of documents shall not refuse to produce the relevant documents in the following circumstances:
- where the possessor, as a party, has cited the document in his or her arguments in the action, the party applying for the DPO was otherwise entitled by law to possess or inspect the document, the document was executed for the benefit of the petitioner or the document was executed in respect of a legal relationship between the petitioner and the possessor; and
- the document does not fall under any exemptions provided in the CCP.42
The exemptions provided for in (b) above are as follows:
- documents containing information in respect of which the possessor would have the right to refuse to testify because the information is self-incriminating or incriminating to their family;
- documents containing a secret relating to a public officer's duties;
- documents containing professional secrets, including documents obtained by lawyers and doctors through performance of their duties;
- documents containing technical secrets or secrets that are useful for occupations;
- documents held by the possessor exclusively for their own use; and
- documents relating to criminal proceedings or juvenile delinquency proceedings.
Courts may decide not to examine documentary evidence if they deem it to be unnecessary,43 and courts meticulously scrutinise the necessity of issuing a DPO. If the court finds that the fact that the party is seeking to establish through a DPO is unnecessary for resolution of the dispute, the court will decline to issue the DPO. Japanese evidence law on civil cases does not have strict rules on admissibility of evidence. Therefore, in contrast with procedures in the United States, the court may admit evidence even if there is a danger that the evidence in question is unfairly prejudicial, confusing or misleading to the judges. Thus, whether a judge orders a DPO regarding 'other similar incidents' of a product defect, for example, depends on the judge's interpretation of the 'necessity' of the evidence for deciding the issues in the current case.
Before a lawsuit is instituted, or while the lawsuit is pending, a party may inquire of the opponent to request information regarding matters necessary for preparing allegations or proof.44 This system is analogous to the US interrogatory system, but in practice this process is not frequently used in Japan.
No system for taking the depositions of parties, witnesses or experts exists in Japan.
Evidence preservation proceedings
A party (petitioner) may request that the court issue an order to preserve the evidence if the petitioner provides prima facie evidence that circumstances exist in which it will be difficult to examine evidence, including circumstances where the other party might spoil evidence.45 The order is granted pursuant to an ex parte hearing requested by the petitioner, and the other party is notified of such an order only several hours before the judge implements the preservation order, which might avoid the other party spoiling the relevant evidence.
When multiple entities are involved in a product liability case, the entities are jointly and severally liable for liability under the PL Act or in tort. A named defendant that has compensated the victim in excess of the damages that the defendant is required to bear may seek reimbursement from other entities. The portion of the burden that should be borne by each entity is determined on a case-by-case basis, considering the fair burden of damages and taking into account various circumstances, such as the situation in which the act occurred and the connection between the act and the damage.46
Under Japanese law, the successor of an entity – for example by way of merger – will be liable for its predecessor's liability.
viii Mass tort actions
In Japan, there is no legislation creating a US-style class action for mass torts. In practice, plaintiffs bringing mass tort actions have been solicited through announcements on the internet and by other methods.
In 2013, a new law relating to collective actions in respect of consumer contracts was promulgated, which came into force in 2016: the Act on Special Measures Concerning Civil Court Proceedings for the Collective Redress for Property Damage Incurred by Consumers, Law No. 96 of 2013 (the Collective Redress Act). This Act provides for two-stage proceedings: during the first stage, a certified qualified consumer entity files a lawsuit and, if the defendant loses at the first stage, either entirely or in part, the certified qualified consumer entity files a second stage proceeding, to which individual consumers may opt in to confirm their individual damages. This Act permits collective claims to be brought against business operators for recovery of damages suffered by consumers relating to consumer contracts. A plaintiff consumer generally must have privity of contract with the business operator for the relevant claims to be eligible under this system. Therefore, it is difficult to use this collective redress system to sue a manufacturer for product liability claims where manufacturers usually lack a direct contractual relationship with consumers. Furthermore, lost profits, personal injury, and pain and suffering are expressly excluded from the scope of claims that can be brought under the Collective Redress Act.47 Therefore, in the context of this publication, the Collective Redress Act is relevant only when, for example, many consumers purchased defective products from a retailer, and the consumers collectively claim return of the purchase price of the product from the retailer. If the retailer loses the case, the retailer will seek reimbursement (for the damages paid) from the manufacturer responsible for the defect in a separate, regular lawsuit. Since the Collective Redress Act entered into force, only four collective redress cases (against a total of five defendants) have been filed as at 30 November 2021, none of which is related to product defects.
Recovery of economic damages, including lost profits, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, is permitted in product liability cases under Japanese law, regardless of whether the claim is brought in breach of contract, tort or under the PL Act. The remedy for damages is monetary compensation.48 The amount of damages is determined by the judge because no jury system exists in Japan. There is no law limiting the amount of damages that may be ordered. However, Japanese law does not allow punitive damages. Punitive damages awarded in foreign litigation or arbitration will not be recognised in Japan because they infringe upon public policy in Japan.49
The PL Act limits its application to claims for damage arising from an infringement of life, body or property caused by a defect in a product. However, damages that occur only in respect of the defective product may be claimed only if they are aggregated with the other types of recoverable damages described above.50
Criminal liability is explained in Section III.
Year in review
Since 2008, a series of nationwide asbestos-related product liability lawsuits have been brought against the Japanese government and manufacturers of construction materials. The total number of plaintiffs exceeds 1,100. The plaintiffs are workers (or the heirs of the deceased workers) who engaged in construction, renovation or demolition of buildings and other structures. The plaintiffs allege that they were exposed to asbestos dust released from construction materials, which caused them to develop serious asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. The plaintiffs further allege that the government should have exercised its authority to regulate asbestos, and that the manufacturer defendants should have issued warnings about the hazardous nature of asbestos. These cases raised a number of legal issues and the decisions in the lower courts were split.
On 17 May 2021, the Supreme Court resolved these issues through four judgments on the same date.51 The following is an overview of the Supreme Court decision on some principal issues:
- In terms of the manufacturers' liability, a dispute exists concerning the causal link between the injuries to particular plaintiffs and the asbestos materials manufactured by a particular defendant. In this connection, whether the second sentence of Article 719(1) of the CC, which provides the presumption of causation,52 can be applied was a major legal issue. The Supreme Court held that this provision requires that there be no perpetrators other than defendants that could solely cause the damage. Although the Court did not apply this provision because the fact that there were no perpetrators other than the defendants was not established, the Court applied this provision mutatis mutandis to the defendant manufacturers, considering the circumstances, including that the asbestos materials manufactured by the defendants were delivered to the workplace of plaintiffs, that the plaintiffs treated these materials and were exposed to asbestos dust released from them, and that the defendants could expect these circumstances. At the same time, the Court restricted the defendants' liability to the extent of their contribution to the damages, based on the fact that the materials manufactured by the defendants constituted only a portion of the whole amount of asbestos dust that the plaintiffs were exposed to.53
- With regard to the establishment of the fact that specific asbestos materials manufactured by defendants were delivered to the workplace of the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court admitted a certain rationality to the plaintiffs' attempt to establish this fact based on, among other things, market shares of the specific materials.54
The Supreme Court's judgments on these issues will have a significant impact in theory and in practice.
1 Akihiro Hironaka is a partner and Kota Hoshina and Chisa Fukudome are associates at Nishimura & Asahi.
2 PL Act, Article 6.
3 See, in particular, Food Sanitation Act, Articles 21-2, 21-3, 51, 57 and 58.
4 Food Labelling Act, Article 10-2.
5 PMD Act, Article 14(1).
6 id., Article 75-5-2.
7 CPS Act, Article 4(1).
8 id., Article 32(i).
9 id., Articles 35(1) and 56(1).
10 id., Articles 36(1) and 56(1).
11 id., Articles 32-21 and 32-22.
12 RTV Act, Article 40 et seq.
13 id., Articles 63-2 and 63-3.
14 Law No. 14 of 2019.
15 Consumer Safety Act, Articles 12(1) and 47(1).
16 id., Article 13 et seq.
17 PL Act, Article 2(1).
18 id., Article 2(3)(i).
19 id., Article 2(3)(ii).
20 id., Article 2(3)(iii).
21 id., Article 3.
22 id., Article 2(2).
23 X v. AstraZeneca K.K., 67-4 Minshû 899 (Sup. Ct., 12 April 2013).
24 Penal Code, Articles 209–11.
25 AGRAL, Article 18.
27 For general explanations of Japanese civil procedure, see Yasuhei Taniguchi, et al. eds., Civil Procedure in Japan (3rd ed.) (Juris Publishing, 2018), to which Akihiro Hironaka, one of the authors of this chapter, is a contributor.
28 Miura v. Japan, 29-9 Minshû 1417 (Sup. Ct., 24 Oct. 1975). See also X v. Y, 1724 Hanrei jihô 29 (Sup. Ct., 18 July 2000).
29 PL Act, Article 4(i).
30 id., Article 4(ii).
31 id., Article 5.
32 CC, Article 724(i), 724-2.
33 CC, Article 724 (ii).
34 PL Act, Article 6; CC, Article 722(2).
35 See CAA, Consumer Safety Division, Chikujyô Kaisetsu Seizôbutsu Sekininhô (a commentary on the Product Liability Act) 82-83 (Shôjihômu, 2d ed. 2018).
36 X v. AstraZeneca K.K., 67-4 Minshû 899 (Sup. Ct., 12 April 2013).
37 CCP Article 3-3(viii).
38 Law No. 36 of 2011.
39 CCP Article 3-9. See also X v. Y, 70-3 Minshû 846 (Sup. Ct., 10 Mar. 2016) (claim dismissed in the Japanese court where related litigation was pending in Nevada state court in the US).
40 See CCP Article 213.
41 id., Article 92-2(1).
42 id., Article 220(i)–(iv).
43 id., Article 181(1).
44 id., Articles 132-2 and 163.
45 id., Article 234; Rules of Civil Procedure, Article 153(3).
46 See CAA, Consumer Safety Division, footnote 32, at 137–138.
47 The Collective Redress Act, Article 3(2)(i)–(vi).
48 CC, Article 722(1), 417; PL Act, Article 6.
49 For punitive damages awarded in a foreign court, see Northcon I, Oregon Partnership v. Mansei Kôgyô Co Ltd, 51-6 Minshû 2573 (Sup. Ct., 11 July 1997).
50 PL Act, Article 3 proviso.
51 X v. Y, 1768 Saibansho jihô 2 (Sup. Ct., 17 May 2021) (the Kanagawa lawsuit); X v. Y, 1768 Saibansho jihô 17 (Sup. Ct., 17 May 2021) (the Kyoto lawsuit); X v. Y, 1768 Saibansho jihô 20 (Sup. Ct., 17 May 2021) (the Osaka lawsuit); and X v. Y, 1768 Saibansho jihô 23 (Sup. Ct., 17 May 2021) (the Tokyo lawsuit).
52 Article 719(1) of the CC provides that '[i]f more than one person has inflicted damage on others by their joint tortious acts, each of them shall be jointly and severally liable to compensate for that damage. The same shall apply if it cannot be ascertained which of the joint tortfeasors inflicted the damage'.
53 See the judgment for the Kanagawa lawsuit.
54 See the judgment for the Tokyo lawsuit.