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KENCHIKUSHI LAW IN JAPAN

Architects practicing in Japan are governed by Kenchikushi Law. However, Kenchikushi Law is not the equivalent to Architect Law as established in the United States. The Ministry of Construction in Japan has interpreted the word "Kenchikushi" to mean "licensed architects and/or building engineers." The word actually refers to building engineers who engage not only in the fields of architectural design and supervision, but also construction, administration, education and other related field. Hence, "Kenchikushi" dos not distinguish the architect as a practicing professional. Accordingly, we will introduce the word "Kenchikushi" hereinafter as it is commonly used in the Japanese language.
1. Licenses of Kenchikushi
 Licenses of First-Class Kenchikushi are awarded by the Ministry of Construction by means of a national qualifying examination. Second-Class Kenchikushi, including Kenchikushi for wooden buildings, are awarded by prefectural governors by means of prefectural qualifying examinations.

Eligibility for qualifying examinations for First-Class Kenchikushi: Two (2) years practical building-related experience after graduating from a four-year university course in architecture or civil engineering.

Three (3) years practical building-related experience after graduation from a three-year junior college course in architecture or civil engineering.

Four (4) years practical building-related experience after obtaining a license as Second-Class Kenchikushi.

 Eligibility for qualifying examinations for Second-Class Kenchikushi and Wooden Buildings Kenchikushi are specially provided.


The nature of the above mentioned "practical building-related experience" is not specified. The applicant is only required to be engaged in some architectural and / or building construction activities for the required number of years.
2. Authority of Kenchikushi under Kenchikushi Law
 First-Class Registered Kenchikushi
Number of registered Kenchikushi: about 224,000 as of March 31, 1990. Restrictions concerning types and scale of buildings permitted to be designed : no limitation (refer to figure-1)

 Second-Class Registered Kenchikushi
Number of registered Kenchikushi: about 504,000 as of March 31, 1990. Restrictions concerning types and scale of buildings permitted to be designed : certain restrictions apply (refer to figure-1)

 Registered Kenchikushi for Wooden Buildings
Number of registered Kenchikushi: about 12,000 as of March 31, 1990. Restrictions : Certain restrictions apply concerning type, scale, structure and size (refer to figure-1).
3. Registration of Kenchikushi Offices in Japan
 Applicants: Anyone may establish a Kenchikushi office so long as it is managed by a licensed Kenchikushi.

 Managing Kenchikushi: Technically responsible for all work, including design work, performed in the office.

 Form of organization : Individual or Corporation.
There is no professional corporation status. In case of incorporation, there are no restrictions concerning amount of capitalization or social standpoint of shareholders.

Under the legal regulations mentioned above, construction companies are permitted to establish First-Class Kenchikushi offices within their companies. There is no legal distinction between a proper Kenchikushi office (architect's office) and an in-house Kenchikushi office of a construction company. Hence, these companies can design buildings and supervise all construction.
4. Standpoint of the Japan Institute of Architects (JIA)
 The JIA recognizes the existence of the traditional design-build construction method.
The JIA believes that due to the influence of the current strong demand for building construction, the original duty of architects to protect the interests of their clients and benefit the public, has been compromised; and, that the excessive commercialism that has resulted promotes individual fame and profit at the expense of professionalism.
 l The JIA believes that there is a necessity for new regulations regarding the registration of architects' offices.
—Classification of architects' offices according to specific standpoints.
—Clarification of both distinctive functions and common duties in
building design between the different types of offices.
—Clear separation of design fees and construction costs, regardless of
the type of office.
—An equitable basis for establishing design fees, regardless of the type
of office.
 l Realistic internationalization of the architectural profession in Japan relies upon the establishment of architect law founded upon internationally recognized common functions, activities, and social status of architects on par with western countries.
  Figure-1
Building Classification and Required Kenchikushi License
 
Note: "Special Buildings" include schools, hospitals, theaters, movie theaters, public halls, auditoriums, and department stores.

(1990 text by Mr. Reiichiro Kitadai)

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(社)日本建築家協会  The Japan Institute of Architects (JIA)
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