Recent Legislations in Japan (Administrative Law)
Revision of the Administrative Appeal Act
Professor Takeshi HITOMI
(Research Staff, Waseda Law School)
(on 22 October 2014)
The Administrative Appeal Act has the purpose of enabling simple and expeditious relief to be obtained for the rights and interests of citizens and of ensuring proper administrative management by opening the way for making appeals to administrative agencies concerning administrative act and non-acting with regard to applications for administrative act by administrative agencies, such as the national government and local governments. This law was enacted in 1962, and its first radical revision since its enactment was effected in 2014. The principal points of the revision are set out below.
1. Prior to the revision, there were three types of appeal: objection (filed against an acting agency or an agency that has failed to act), request for review (filed against a reviewing agency other than an acting agency or a non-acting agency), and request for second review (filed against a ruling on a request for review). With regard to the primary appeal, under this recent revision the filing of an objection has been abolished and unified with the request for review (filed against the acting agency or non-acting agency in the event that there is no higher administrative agency relative to them; or, in the event that there is a higher administrative agency, filed against the highest-level administrative agency). Solely with respect to very limited prescribed types of administrative acts, such as administrative acts relating to national tax for which there are numerous appeals, an option has been instituted that enables appellants to choose filing a request for review or filing a request for reinvestigation to the acting or non-acting agency.
2. With regard to the hearing for requests for review, in principle the hearing officer, who has not been party to the original administrative act, hears the arguments of the acting or non-acting agency and the applicant for the review and submits his or her conclusion in a written opinion to the reviewing agency, whereupon a third-party body of experts (at national level an administrative appeal review board within the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and at local government level bodies attached to executive agencies, etc.) acts as a consultative body to participate in the judgment made by the reviewing agency. It is expected that these arrangements will enhance the fairness of reviews conducted internally in administrative organisation.
3. The period during which it is possible to file a request for review against the reviewing agency has been extended from 60 days to three months from the day on which the applicant became aware of the administrative act.
4. It is obligatory for the reviewing agency to strive to determine and make known publicly the standard duration of proceedings, that is, the normal period required from the arrival of a request for review at the reviewing agency to the making of a ruling, and rules have been laid down to ensure that hearing proceedings progress and are performed in a systematic manner. It is expected that this will enable expeditious relief to be obtained.
Accompanying the revision of the Administrative Appeal Act, revisions have also been made to a number of other laws such as those stipulating special provisions for the Administrative Appeal Act. Of particular note is the abolition or curtailment of the system requiring administrative appeals prior to judicial review. This system, under which administrative litigation in courts is not initiated unless the administrative appeal procedures have been completed, has been abolished for 47 laws such as the Building Standards Act and the Agricultural Land Act. Additionally, the system mandating the preliminary filing of objections and requests for second review has been abolished for 21 laws such as the National Pension Act and the Act on General Rules for National Taxes, and in this way the dual system of preliminary procedures has been abolished completely. It is expected that this will enable simple and expeditious relief to be obtained.
Together with the revision of the Administrative Appeal Act, which prescribes subsequent relief procedures after administrative act decisions have been made, the Administrative Procedure Act has also been revised in relation to administrative act and other procedures conducted in advance. This has newly established an appeals system for the conduct of administrative acts and administrative guidance needed to rectify violations of laws and ordinances, and procedures for requesting the suspension of administrative guidance given for the purpose of rectifying violations of laws and ordinances.