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GC Magazine



NTT DoCoMo, Inc.

NTT DoCoMo is one of the world’s largest mobile communications operators and Yutaka Nakamura has headed its legal function since 1999. During that period the company launched i-mode, the world’s most popular mobile internet platform, and FOMA, the first 3G commercial mobile service. As an executive committee member, Yutaka takes an active role in strategic decisions-making. He previously served as a senior counsel at leading Japanese manufacturer JFE Steel for 12 years. GC’s Catherine McGregor spoke to him to find a bit more about his career and what he likes about his role.

B U S I N E S S     T H I N K I N G

GC: Did you always know that you wanted to be a lawyer? Why did you become one?

Yutaka Nakamura (YN): In my early teen years, I was watching a Japanese TV drama featuring a diehard lawyer whose mission was to protect human rights.  That was my first inspiration to become a lawyer as a profession.

GC: What made you first want to go in-house?

YN: When I was studying law in Japan, I initially wanted to enter private practice and join a law firm.  But I happened to meet some people working for a corporate legal department and I found the way they spoke about their roles to be very attractive and interesting. This eventually led me to go in-house.

GC: What’s the best thing about working at NTT DoCoMo?

YN: NTT Docomo’s main business field is in the middle of IT technology.  It’s such a fast paced sector that after almost 10 years serving as the General Counsel, I still face new challenges every day.

GC: What’s your favourite part of your day at the office?

YN: Meeting and listening to people in my team, and watching how they grow.

GC: What’s your least favourite part of your day at the office?

YN: Attending some meetings that just seem endless.

What has been the highlight of your professional life so far?

YN: Among many opportunities, I was involved in the several multi-billion dollar M&A deals for NTT DoCoMo in early 2000.  In the period 1999-2000, I was probably the lawyer who represented the most high-profile M&As in Japan.

GC: What legal issues / challenges have you got coming up on the horizon over the next few months?

YN: Protection for privacy: As new business models using “big data” come out, we must seek new boundary for balancing the protection of individual privacy with promoting new business.

GC: How much do you outsource as a team, and how much do you keep in-house?

YN: We keep the most of our legal work in-house, except for litigation.

GC: What do you expect from an external lawyer?

YN: Not only expertise in particular law field, we also ask our external counsels to develop “win-win partner” relationship with us, and weigh in with their deep understanding of our business.

GC: What are you reading at the moment?
YN: A classic book on “Yi Ching” (A book on Law of Changes)

GC: What’s your favourite film?
YN: Cinema Paradiso

GC: Finally, if you weren’t practising law anymore, what would you be doing?

YN: As a big music lover, I would want to become a professional musician.