Since 2017 the Japanese government has endeavored to promote international arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services in Japan. One concrete example of this effort is the establishment in 2018 of the Japan International Dispute Resolution Center (JIDRC) in Osaka. A second is the opening of a JIDRC office in Tokyo in March 2020. Together these facilities offer a welcome addition to first-rate ADR venues elsewhere in Asia, such as Maxwell Chambers in Singapore and the complex in the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre’s office.
Like its Osaka-based predecessor, JIDRC-Tokyo provides facilities that parties can use for international arbitration hearings and other kinds of ADR, such as international mediations. While Japan is now home to several international arbitration institutions and an international mediation institution, JIDRC-Osaka and JIDRC-Tokyo also are open to parties whose arbitral or mediation proceedings are administered under the rules of non-Japanese institutions, as well as ad hoc arbitral proceedings.
Recently opened JIDRC-Tokyo has two large hearing rooms and a number of breakout rooms of varying sizes that parties and arbitrators can use for internal and other meetings. These spaces also can be used for conferences or seminars on ADR-related topics. JIDRC-Tokyo offers excellent technology and equipment such as high-speed Wi-Fi service, videoconference systems with major meeting platforms (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.), a simultaneous translation room and apparatus, and live script equipment that can prepare real-time transcripts. In addition, the videoconferencing systems include cameras in various locations that can project images on large-screen and smaller monitors. JIDRC-Osaka’s technical capabilities are similar to those of JIDRC-Tokyo.
Due to safety concerns and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, arbitration hearings are being held virtually with increasing frequency. Leading arbitral institutions such as the International Chamber of Commerce have issued guidance on virtual hearings, as has the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.¹ Among other things, these sources highlight the need for appropriate cybersecurity protocols to ensure confidentiality of proceedings and compliance with applicable data privacy regulations. The constraints on in-person arbitration hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic seem unlikely to disappear soon, and while this is the case the advanced technology and equipment of JIDRC in Osaka and Tokyo are well suited to host virtual hearings.²
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¹ See ICC Guidance Note on Possible Measures Aimed at Mitigating the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, https://cms.iccwbo.org/content/uploads/sites/3/2020/04/guidance-note-possible-measures-mitigating-effects-covid-19-english.pdf, and Guidance Note on Remote Dispute Resolution Proceedings, https://www.ciarb.org/media/8967/remote-hearings-guidance-note.pdf.
² See JIDRC,Virtual Hearing at JIDRC, https://idrc.jp/en/%e6%9c%aa%e5%88%86%e9%a1%9e/virtual-hearing-at-jidrc/.
The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. Readers of this article should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.