Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

Japan > Banking and finance > International firms and joint ventures > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance: international firms and joint ventures
  2. Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  3. Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)
  4. Next generation lawyers: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)
  5. Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

Leading individuals: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)

  1. 1

Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers: bengoshi (within international firms and joint ventures)

  1. 1
    • Zenya Onishi - Linklaters

Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which International firms and joint ventures clients in Japan using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Allen & Overy Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho is ‘a first port of call’ for many thanks to its ‘strong team’, ‘exceptional experience, technical transactional knowledge and clear professionalism’. The group excels in the project finance space, advising sponsors and lenders across the shipping, energy and infrastructure sectors; recent highlights include advising NYK Line on the financing of two LNG vessels, acting for JBIC and Mizuho Bank on the project financing of a new-build LNG carrier, and assisting the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Japanese International Cooperation Agency with the debt financing of a wind farm project in Mongolia. Scott Neilson and Matthias Voss jointly lead the team; Neilson led advice to Asian Development Bank (ADB), JBIC and other financial institutions on an LNG project financing, and Voss was part of a team that acted for the ECAs during the financing of the Nghi Son Refinery project in Vietnam. NEXI, Mitsubishi and Sumitomo are also clients.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s key areas of expertise include acquisition finance transactions, PFI, real estate finance and credit facilities. Practice head Naoaki Eguchi is recommended for project finance issues; he recently advised BTMU, Development Bank of Japan, Mizuho Bank and SMBC on the financing of two IGCC power plants in Fukushima Prefecture. The department also includes Shinichiro Kitamura and Gavin Raftery, who worked together advising Mizuho Bank on a ¥1tn bridge loan to help finance SoftBank’s acquisition of Arm Holdings, and acting for Hon Hai Precision Industry on financing its acquisition of a majority stake in Sharp Corporation. Further clients include Shinsei Bank, Universal Entertainment and Trina Solar. Seishi Ikeda and Alexander Jampel are recommended for real estate finance, while Yasuhisa Takatori, Jeremy Pitts and Tsutomu Kobayashi are other names to note.

As ‘one of the best firms in the market’, Clifford Chance Law Office is ‘particularly outstanding in the project financing space’; the group also advises on structured financings, corporate loans, acquisition finance, export finance and real estate finance issues. Highlights included assisting JBIC and SMBC with the financing of four new-build anchor handling tug vessels for Teekay Offshore, acting as lender’s counsel for a Japanese mega-bank during the secured financing of the £43m acquisition of three UK-based recruitment and outsourcing companies by Outsourcing, and advising Kirkbi on finance aspects of the development of a new Legoland theme park in Nagoya. Masayuki Okamoto leads the practice, which includes Hidehiko Suzuki, who focuses on ECA financings; Yusuke Abe, who is ‘one of the hardest working lawyers in the business’; ‘excellent negotiator’ Ross Howard and Leng-Fong Lai, who is recommended for structured financing transactions. Counsel Hans Menski is also a name to note.

Linklaters’ ‘extremely responsive’ team ‘deserves its position at the top of the table’ thanks to its ‘high technical ability, client-oriented approach and exceptional commerciality’. The practice, under John Maxwell’s leadership, excels in acquisition financings, private equity-related matters and project financing matters. Clients include several Japanese megabanks including BTMU, SMBC and Mizuho Bank; the group also acts for JBIC, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank (SMTB), Shinsei Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Counsel Zenya Onishi is highly regarded and is ‘without doubt, the future of the practice’. Clients also praise counsel Kenneth Lam (a ‘very reliable lawyer, who works incredibly hard to build strong relationships with clients’) and Hiroya Yamazaki, who has ‘exceptional knowledge of cross-border matters’.

Kensuke Inoue and Dominic Gregory jointly lead the department at Ashurst, which has notable strength in project and acquisition finance matters and cross-border corporate lending. In a recent highlight, Inoue advised JBIC as lender to Perusahaan Perseroan (Persero) of ¥32bn for the construction of a power plant in Indonesia. The team also acted for Caribbean Gas Chemical during the $850m development and financing of a methanol plant and dimethyl ether production facility in Trinidad and Tobago, assisted the lenders – including JBIC and SMBC – with funding the Vung Ang II imported coal-fired power plant in Vietnam, and advised PT Trans Retail Indonesia on a $575m secured syndicated loan for the refinancing of existing facilities. Itochu, Apollo and Export-Import Bank of Korea are also clients. Matthew Rickards is recommended for FPSO transactions. Matthew Bubb relocated to the firm’s Melbourne office.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is recognised for its cross-border expertise, particularly in project finance matters. Practice head Aled Davies recently advised the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) on the $910m financing to HNA Aviation for its acquisition of Swissport International. The firm’s client roster also includes Mitsubishi, NYK Line, Nissay Asset Management, SMBC and Mizuho Bank. In recent personnel developments, Alexander Borisoff moved to the firm’s New York office, senior associate Andrew Pendleton joined the Tokyo office from London and Justen Fleming became special counsel.

Under the leadership of Dale Caldwell and Akihiro Wani, Morrison & Foerster LLP’s practice focuses on regulatory mandates and has experience in acquisition finance, project finance, real estate finance and derivatives transactions. Wani’s highlights included advising the Japan Securities Dealers Association on issues surrounding the introduction of the new close-out netting and security arrangement, assisting Japan Securities Clearing Corporation with the validity and enforceability of a new margin maintenance system for interest rate swaps, and acting for CLS Bank in the updating of trade terms and conditions relating to international fund transfer settlements. Caldwell is recommended for project finance matters, Keiko Yamazaki handles M&A and real estate financings, and Katsuhiko Fujihira has substantial securitisation expertise.

The ‘superb team’ at White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association) fields ‘diligent, responsive, hardworking and innovative individuals’ with asset finance practice head Simon Collins receiving praise for his ‘incredible legal knowledge and expertise, and overall understanding of the Japanese market and its nuances’. Collins’ recent work includes working with newly promoted partner Seiji Matsuzoe in acting for BTMU, Mizuho Bank and SMBC as senior lenders during a multi-tranche $2.2bn debt refinancing for Sprint Telecom, handling the Japanese operating leases with call options (JOLCO) financing of three aircraft for Aeroméxico, and assisting CIT Aerospace with the leasing of four aircraft to All Nippon Airways. Project finance specialist Toshio Dokei leads the banking team, which includes ‘brilliant’ counsel Keisuke Imon.

At Jones Day, JBIC remains a key client, which the team recently advised on a $100m loan to Bancomext under the client’s GREEN program; it also assisted it with a RUB1.8bn investment loan to AO Toyota Bank and a $20m loan to Banco Honda. Other clients include BNP Paribas, which the group advised as arranger on a flight ticket receivables securitisation, and IBJ Leasing, which the team acted for as guarantor on a loan extended by AO Mizuho Bank to Terneyles OAO. Hirokazu Ina heads the department, which also includes Kaoru Umino and of counsel John Roebuck.

For some, K&L Gates is ‘top class in Japan’ for aviation finance, especially JOLCOs; highlights included advising JP Lease Products & Services on its first JOLCO financing of two Airbus aircraft, acting for Tokyo Century as senior and mezzanine lender on the financing of an aircraft on lease to KLM, and assisting Financial Products Group with the purchase of an aircraft on lease to Virgin Atlantic Airways. Practice head Robert E Melson Jr. is ‘an excellent lawyer with incredible industry knowledge’; JOLCO specialist Sebastian Smith, Takahiro Kawaguchi and Amanda Darling (who splits her time between Japan and the US) are also recommended.

King & Spalding’s practice is highly regarded for its expertise in non-recourse lending, credit facilities and project financing. John McClenahan is a key name to note; his recent mandates include advising JBIC on the $2.5bn financing of the construction of the Vung Ang II coal-fired IPP in Vietnam, and acting for Modec, Mitsui & Co, Marubeni and Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) as sponsors on the financing of the Carioca FPSO vessel. Mark Davies is also recommended and recently advised Japan Wind Development on the development of two separate wind power projects.

The department at Latham & Watkins Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise includes Hiroki Kobayashi, Michael Yoshii and Joseph Bevash, who splits his time between Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul. Kobayashi regularly advises on international project financings involving Japanese sponsors and lenders, and recently advised the ECAs and commercial banks on financing the Tanjung Jati B power plant expansion in Indonesia; Yoshii handles matters in the Philippines, Indonesia and Southeast Asia; and Bevash is recommended for energy sector projects.

Shipping finance is a key strength for Norton Rose Fulbright’s ‘highly experienced’ team, with Paul Coggins advising BNP Paribas and JBIC as lenders on the credit financing of two steel crude oil tankers, and acting for Mitsui & Co and MOL on their formation of a joint venture with AKOFS Offshore and the subsequent sale and leaseback of a subsea equipment support vessel. George Gibson and Jeremy Gibb jointly lead the group; Gibson handles energy projects and Gibb assisted Orix with its purchase of $290m of shipping loans from RBS. Adrian Joyce is also recommended.

Tsuyoshi Imai heads the team at Ropes & Gray LLP, which is ‘excellent in terms of both quality and pragmatism’. The group regularly acts for sponsors in leveraged finance transactions and recently advised Bain Capital on its leveraged acquisition of Ooedo Onsen Monogatari. Imai is also highly regarded for his private equity expertise, advising on LBOs, senior and mezzanine loans and refinancing transactions. Counsel Ben Morris is another name to note.

The energy sector remains a strong focus of Shearman & Sterling, where project finance specialist Etienne Gelencsér is a key name. Other noteworthy individuals include Asia regional managing partner Masahisa Ikeda and Kenneth Lebrun, who handles private equity transactions. Clients include financial institutions, funds, underwriters and Japanese companies.

Don Stokes and Edward Cole jointly lead the department at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, following Mark Plenderleith’s departure from the firm. Stokes focuses on infrastructure project financing and recently acted for JBIC on the financing of the Clean Fuel Project for Kuwait National Petroleum; he also advised JBIC on the financing of a thermal power plant in Vietnam and assisted OPIC as lender with the financing of cell tower infrastructure projects in Myanmar for Apollo Towers. X-ELIO Energy and Asian Development Bank are also clients.

As ‘a key firm in the market for fund work’, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP assists with the establishment, operation, registration and licensing of investment funds and fund-related intermediaries in Japan. Key practitioners include Christopher Wells and Tomoko Fuminaga, who count banks, securities companies, asset managers and trust management companies as clients.

The group at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP focuses on the energy sector, acting for a range of developers and financial institutions. Yoichi Katayama is recommended for his work in the infrastructure space, advising on the financing of power, telecoms and other international infrastructure projects; and Minako Wakabayashi is highly regarded for her expertise in renewable energy project finance.

Toshiyuki Arai is the key name to note at Paul Hastings LLP and counts manufacturers, private equity funds, technology companies, investment banks, commercial banks and trading companies as clients. Arai has notable experience advising on cross-border transactions, particularly US-Japan matters and US-China work.

Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

International comparative guides

Giving the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in different jurisdictions.

Select Practice Area

Tokyo Anti-Corruption Forum 2018

  • China and Hong Kong GC Powerlist

    In May, The Legal 500 and GC Magazine in partnership with Morrison & Foerster co-hosted the first in a series of Anti-Corruption Forums set to take place across Asia. Held exclusively for senior in-house counsel, the event brought together 25 leading general counsel, heads of legal and heads of compliance from across Japan to discuss current anti-corruption trends and share best practices to mitigate emerging risks.

    Tokyo Anti-Corruption Forum 2018

Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

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). 

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to