Japan – Know Your Customer (KYC) Rules



Japan is a regional financial center. It has one free-trade zone, the Okinawa Special Free Trade Zone, established in 1999 in Naha, to promote industry and trade in Okinawa. The zone is regulated by the Department of Okinawa Affairs in the Cabinet Office. Japan also has two free ports, Nagasaki and Niigata. Customs authorities allow the bonding of warehousing and processing facilities adjacent to these ports on a case-by-case basis. It is not an offshore financial center.

Japan continues to face substantial risk of money laundering by organized crime (including Boryokudan, Japan‘s organized crime groups, and Iranian drug trafficking organizations), extremist religious groups, and other domestic and international criminal elements. The major sources of money laundering proceeds include drug trafficking, fraud, loan-sharking (illegal money lending), remittance frauds, the black market economy, prostitution, and illicit gambling.

In the past year, there has been an increase in financial crimes by citizens of West African countries, such as Nigeria and Ghana, who are resident in Japan. There is not a significant black market for smuggled goods, and the existence of alternative remittance systems is believed to be very limited in Japan.



Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs:


PEP is an abbreviation for Politically Exposed Person, a term that describes a person who has been entrusted with a prominent public function, or an individual who is closely related to such a person. The terms PEP, Politically Exposed Person and Senior Foreign Political Figure are often used interchangeably

    • Foreign PEP:  NO
    • Domestic PEP: NO

Japan – KYC covered entities


The following is a list of Know Your Customer entities covered by Japanese Law:

    • Financial institutions
    • Real estate agents and professionals
    • Precious metals and stones dealers
    •  Antique dealers
    • Postal service providers
    • Lawyers
    • Judicial scriveners
    • Certified administrative procedures specialists
    • Certified public accountants
    • Certified public tax accountants
    • Trust companies

Japan – Suspicious Transaction Reporting (STR) Requirements:


Number of STRs received and time frame: 337,341 in 2011

The following is a list of STR covered entities covered by Japanese Law:

    • Financial institutions
    • Real estate agents and professionals
    • Precious metals and stones dealers



Prosecutions: 191
Convictions: Not available


Although the Japanese government continues to strengthen legal institutions to permit more effective enforcement of anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) laws, Japan‘s compliance with international standards specific to financial institutions is notably deficient. In April 2011, Japan amended its basic AML law, the Criminal Proceeds Act, to improve customer due diligence (CDD) requirements, including by requiring financial institutions to identify the customer‘s name, address, and date of birth, and to verify the purpose of transaction, business activities and beneficial owners. However, while the government is in the process of formulating the subordinate decrees, these requirements do not come into effect until April 28, 2013.

The Government of Japan (GOJ) has not implemented a risk-based approach to AML/CFT, and there is currently no mandate for enhanced due diligence for higher-risk customers, business relationships, and transactions. While the April 2011 amendments to the Criminal Proceeds Act call for financial institutions to verify a customer‘s assets and income in certain higher risk situations, they delineate those situations as those where it is suspected that false identity is being used, rather than by increased risks presented by such factors as business type, customer location, or type of transaction. The current regulations also do not authorize simplified due diligence, though there are exemptions to the identification obligation on the grounds that the customer or transaction poses no or little risk of money laundering or terrorist financing. Japan should implement a risk-based approach to its AML/CFT regime.

The GOJ‘s number of investigations, prosecutions, and convictions for money laundering in relation to the number of drug and other predicate offenses is low, despite the GOJ‘s many legal tools and programs to combat these crimes. The National Police Agency (NPA) provides limited cooperation with other GOJ agencies, and most foreign governments, on nearly all criminal, terrorism, or counter-intelligence-related matters. The GOJ should develop a robust program to investigate and prosecute money laundering offenses, and require enhanced cooperation by the NPA with its counterparts in the GOJ and foreign missions.

The GOJ‘s system does not allow the freezing of terrorist assets without delay, and in practice the Ministry of Finance has frozen terrorist assets in only a few cases. Japan‘s system does not cover assets raised by a non-terrorist for use by a terrorist or terrorist organization, and reaches only funds, not other kinds of assets. The GOJ should enact legislation to allow terrorist assets to be frozen without delay, and to expand the scope of assets to include non-financial holdings.

Japan should provide more training and investigatory resources for AML/CFT law enforcement authorities. As Japan is a major trading power, the GOJ should take steps to identify and combat trade-based money laundering.

Japan should become a party to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption, and should fully implement the freezing obligations for terrorist funds, according to the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.