Services to Find Heirs or Lost Family

by Japan PI

How to Locate Long Lost Family or Relatives

Note: If you are searching for person in Japan who is not a relative, visit our Find Missing Persons page.

It’s never too late to find resolution in locating a lost family member. Often situations beyond our control such as a divorce, move, adoption or other circumstances can cause us to lose contact with the ones with love.

In Japan, the difficulty can be exacerbated by a lack of public records; it is very challenging to search for someone in a phonebook, for example. If a client is able to provide us with his or her loved one’s Koseki records, family members become easier to track.

In order to search a family member, you need to know how Japanese citizens are documented by the Japanese government. There are double systems in Japan:

The citizen documentation systems in Japan

In order to search a family member, you need to know how Japanese citizens are documented by the Japanese government. There are double systems in Japan:

  • Juminhyo residential registry records
  • Koseki family registry records

Juminhyo is the certificate of residence registered to the local city hall. It contains the name, date of birth, Honseki (the permanent domicile), current address, previous address and household members who share the same address. When a resident moves out, the local city halls only retains the old residence record for five years. This is the major problem of tracing current address from the old one. In order to keep track of someone’s address history, we need to know the Honseki information for Koseki family registry records.

Koseki is the Japanese Citizen Registration System; an official document that every Japanese citizen possesses. All birth, death, marriage and divorce information is held within a single record.

How Do I Access to Koseki Records?

Three types of people have rights to access Koseki Records:

  • A direct bloodlined next of kin (Grand parents – Parents – children)
  • Attorneys and legal professionals

The Information you will need to access Koseki Records:

  • Honseki or the Permanent Domicile
  • The name of the head of the family

The set of information of the permanent domicile (Honseki) and the head of the family is almost like an index code to access to the Koseki family registry records. Without the exact Honseki information, we can’t obtain the Koseki records even if you have a legal claim right.

Honseki is typically registered at the birth address and update it to your current address when you get married. But it could be anywhere. You can register it to anywhere in Japan.

To know Honseki information, you need to get the Juminhyo record first. But as we mentioned, old Juminhyo records are only kept in the local city hall for five years only.


How We Can Help

Japan PI can contact the Japanese municipal for you to help obtain the Koseki records. If possible, please provide any of the following information:

  • Individual’s Japanese name and date of birth
  • Prior Koseki records
  • Prior address or district of address in Japan

If this information cannot be provided, our team, in collaboration with legal advisors and additional sources, can obtain Koseki records. Our group of international contacts allows us to trace family members even if they are no longer in Japan.

Japan PI is one of the few organizations in the country that offer these kinds of location services. Our team of bilingual private investigators allows for smooth communication with international families and our direct approach ensure no times is
wasted in reuniting our clients with their loved ones.

Whether you need to find a family member for personal, financial or other reasons, Japan PI is here to help. Contact a representative today.


We may not be able to work for you if the provided information is too limited. In that case, we will assess the case background and let you know the successful rate in advance.

Sample Family Tree
I want to thank you so much for all the work you did on my case. I’m in Tokyo now and have been here since Monday. Since we were able to conduct this search before I arrived I was able to save time while here. Yesterday, I decided to approach Kenji’s house. He gladly accepted me into his home and we both were so happy to learn about each other and our past. We now have the opportunity to build a friendship because of you. Your work brought about a success on many levels.

So it all ends well. We’ve been reunited after 40 years of wondering. We now have a chance to discover each other’s personal preferences thanks to you.

Arigato 1000X
Joshua L.
Oregon, USA
September 13, 2018

Daer Goro,

Thank you for helping me to pursue my dream of finding my Okinawan family. I will forever be grateful to you.

Sincerely grateful, Darrel Perry
Darrell Perry
Darrell Perry

FAQs on locating Family

It is worth trying. There is a chance that you can find relatives on DNA Relatives.

However, DNA Relatives is not known by Japanese at all yet. And most Japanese, in general, don’t like to register their DNA to such services. Japanese are always conservative and not adaptable to sensitive matters.

Yes. Our concept is the fusion of PI services and translation. After locating the family member, we can contact them for the client.

We specialize in translation and proxy service for American clients. The majority of Japanese citizens are allergic to the contact from the foreign country even though it’s regarding their family members. Especially, if they receive a legal document on the probate matters from a foreign country, they will be frightened and all they will do is just neglecting it and wait for the sender to give it up.

Also, they tend to wonder if they may be responsible for the debts as well if they inherit something. Maybe Japanese ordinary lawyers or accountants will advise that you should be careful about the debts in the inheritance. And they don’t know how to ask questions in English. That’s the reason why they don’t respond at all.


We sometimes play the role of interpreter for customers who need to contact a lost family in Japan.

In the case of heir search, often the case, Japanse beneficiaries are scared of a possible succession of debts or a massive inheritance tax imposed by the Japanese tax bureau after the international inheritance.

However, in most cases, Japanese heirs do not have to pay any inheritance tax at all in Japan.

We can explain the taxation differences between Japan and other countries and reassure the heirs for our client.

To be honest, without the information about where she was from, it is
like finding a needle in a haystack.

Our fee is US$1,500 for locating someone from the name in the Japanse
language, date of birth, and the city.

Theoretically, we could locate her by doing this search with multiple
names in the Japanese language (3, 4 combinations), multiple cities
(more than 300).

Thus, it is hard to even give you a quote.

Common issues of the location case from overseas

No name in the Japanese character
Japanese characters are non-Alphabetical. We need to know the name in
the Japanee character.
No information on the last known address.
All personal information is strictly confidential in Japan. There are
no proprietary databases for PIs such as Tracers, TLO, etc.

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