Gender and Land Rights Database

Japan

Inheritance legal mechanisms

Civil Code, 1896, amended in 1947:
- Article 887: The child of a deceased is an heir or the child’s offspring, if the child has died before commencement of the inheritance. In case there are neither children nor their offspring, the lineal ascendants of the deceased and after them, the siblings, are heirs.

- Article 890: The spouse of a deceased shall always be an heir.

- Article 898: If there are two or more heirs, the inherited property shall belong to those heirs in co-ownership.

- Article 255: If one of the co-owners renounces his/her share or dies without an heir, his/her share shall vest in other co-owners.

- Article 900: If there are two or more heirs of the same rank, their shares in inheritance shall be determined as follow:
i. if a child and a spouse are heirs, the child’s share and the spouse’s share shall be one half each;
ii. if a spouse and lineal ascendant are heirs, the spouse’s share shall be two thirds, and the lineal ascendant’s share shall be one third;
iii. if a spouse and siblings are heirs, the spouse’s share shall be three quarters, and the sibling’s share shall be one quarter; 
iv. if there are two or more children, lineal ascendants, or siblings, the share of each shall be divided equally; provided that the share of an child out of wedlock shall be one half of the share of a child in wedlock, and the share of a sibling who shares only one parent with the decedent shall be one half of the share of a sibling who shares both parents.

- Article 902: A deceased may determine the share in inheritance of joint heirs by will, or entrust a third party to determine the share, provided that the provisions relating to legally reserved portion are not violated (17).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography