Washington Law Review


Griffith Way


It is only partly true that the lack of materials on Japanese taxation which are available to the foreign lawyer in English is the result of difficulties of language or a lack of familiarity with the legal and tax systems. Rather more it seems to reflect the Japanese bar's own lack of interest in the subject, a large part of which is occasioned by the lack of tax litigation. The tax field has been long and well occupied by the government tax economist on the one hand and the ordinary accountant on the other; the lawyer's role has been peripheral. It is not the purpose of this brief treatment to do more than cover those aspects which are of general interest to most foreigners and foreign firms as a result of the extensive 1962 amendments; and to do so in a very tentative fashion, since only a year has elapsed since passage. So much remains to be understood that even a brief outline of the law and the regulations can be rather misleading in terms of practice. Japanese administrative procedures are unique and it is well at the outset for foreign lawyers to bear in mind that in Japanese tax practice the administrative appeal and litigation in court is not the reasonable alternative in planning or in settling disagreements that it is in the United States. Thus the study of tax law is not a prelude to possible litigation but rather a means of understanding and measuring official attitudes and performance.

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