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‘Abenomics’ – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s grand strategy to revive the country’s economy through a combination of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms – continues to dominate the Japanese market, with mixed results. The yen’s depreciation relative to the US dollar may have increased exports, but rising import levels have outstripped any gains made, leading to the country reporting its widest trade deficit in January 2014. These currency fluctuations have also made it difficult to close deals. Furthermore, Japan’s idiosyncratic labour laws place considerable power in the hands of employees, and can lead to uncertainty for foreign investors.

On the other hand, some firms report an increase in interest from foreign investors, particularly in the real estate sector – and the weaker yen also means there are plenty of Japanese companies with non-core businesses to sell. The J-REIT market is also displaying robust signs of popularity. The exchange rate stabilised in the latter half of 2014, and there is a widespread expectation that this will make it easier to close transactions. In another boon, feed-in tariffs and other incentives are accelerating investment in renewable technologies in the wake of 2011’s Fukushima disaster, though many commentators expect nuclear to play an increasing role over the coming years.

With expected work related to The 2020 Summer Olympics slow to materialise, Japanese companies are looking outbound, and the Big Four domestic firms are tending to follow them out of the jurisdiction. Anderson Mori & Tomotsune recently opened in Singapore and Shanghai; Mori Hamada & Matsumoto established a base in Myanmar; Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu recently arrived in Vietnam and also expanded its Singapore office; and Nishimura & Asahi has established a foothold in Singapore and Bangkok.

Foreign firms continue to pursue individual business models, ranging from New York oriented firms maintaining an office in the jurisdiction in order to conduct high-end M&A, capital markets, and securitisation work, to firms maintaing a projects focus. It is worth noting that some firms have large numbers of bengoshi and that others have none at all: Baker & McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise), Bingham McCutchen Murase, Sakai Mimura Aizawa – Foreign Law Joint Enterprise, Hogan Lovells Horitsu Jimusho Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo, Morrison & Foerster Ito & Mitomi, and White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association) are particularly noted for bengoshi strength.

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Legal Developments in Japan

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Taking control of a Japanese publicly listed company:

    Introductory notes for successfully completing an M&A
  • Yuasa and Hara Business Law News

    Contents of the Issue Law on liability for breach of contract Review on the amendment to the cabinet office order on Corporate Disclosure

    The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter (“the Minister”), has published the Criminal Justice Bill 2011 (“the Bill”). The main purpose of the Bill is stated to be “…to amend the criminal law to improve certain procedural matters and strengthen Garda investigative powers. The intention is that such improvements will assist in reducing the delays associated with the investigation and prosecution of complex crime, in particular white collar crime.”
  • Japan: New legislative framework for Sukuk

    The new framework passed in May 2011 will provide a solid legal platform for issuing Sukuk Ijarah under Japanese law. NAOKI ISHIKAWA highlights key legal structures and tax treatment in respect of the anticipated Sukuk issuances in Japan.
  • Yakult Bottle Acquired Distinctiveness

    Do you know about Yakult's delicious lactic acid drink which is contained in a small bottle? Yakult's lactic acid drink (hereafter referred to as "Yakult drink") is the most famous lactic acid drink in Japan and today is also being sold in many countries around the world. When you are enjoying Yakult drink, please keep in mind the case mentioned below.
  • Tax: Japan: International Joint Ventures

    Tax on international joint ventures. Country Q&A (Japan).
  • Japan: Recent Developments in Practice and Law

    The successful closing of two Islamic fi nance transactions which was announced in July 2010 by Nomura Holdings have paved a concrete path for Japanese corporations to consider overseas Islamic fi nance markets for their fund raising activities. The fi rst transaction was in Asia for the issuance of Sukuk Ijarah and the second was in the Middle East for the establishment of a Commodity Murabahah facility (Nomura Deals).
  • Renewable energy takes off in Japan

    Like many other countries, Japan has decided to reform its renewable energy (RE) policy, to dramatically increase the use of renewable energy. The core policy mechanism is a feed-in tariff (FIT). This chapter summarises the contemplated Japanese FIT and its practical impact on existing and future investment in this sector, providing an overview of:
  • Licensing - 2010

    Q & A on Licensing in Japan 
  • Law on the Civil Jurisdiction of Japanese Courts over Foreign Countries, etc.

    The Law has been enacted to clarify the scope of application of the civil jurisdiction of Japanese courts over foreign countries, etc., and set exceptions to civil preocedings involving foreign countries, etc., based on the United Nations Convention on the Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their property (UN Convention on Immunities) (see Article 1). 

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