Legal help for those on a limited budget

“I recently moved out of a house that I rented for about five years. A few weeks later the owner sent me a message asking for ¥450,000 on top of the ¥70,000 he had for the deposit. This house is over 35 years old and was falling apart when I moved in, and he never made any repairs over the five years I lived there. My girlfriend and I had bad health problems due to the black mold, bad sewage system, and the bats living in the roof.

“I just received a huge package stating I have to go to court next month and he now wants ¥900,000. He also included more lies and pictures. I have no idea what to do; I can’t afford an attorney.”

Fortunately, there are legal resources available in Japan for those with low or no income. The Japan Legal Support Center can connect you with a variety of other helpful organizations depending on your situation and location. As long as you have a valid visa and are residing in Japan legally, they can provide legal services for those with limited means. It’s possible that not all resources will be in English, so you may need to call on a Japanese-speaking friend to help.

The Support Center has English-speakers, but they’ll answer the phone in Japanese. The number is (0570) 07-8374. You can also visit their site at www.houterasu.or.jp/en/.

Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of these services, you’ll usually be asked to provide proof of financial hardship.

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