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Japan > Capital markets > International firms and joint ventures > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Capital markets: 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: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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

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Leading individuals: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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Next generation lawyers: foreign lawyers (gaiben)

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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


As ‘the standout firm in the market’, Clifford Chance Law Office has ‘a deep understanding of Japanese clients’ and provides them with ‘a professional, knowledgeable and pragmatic service’, which is ‘unmatched by others in the field’. The team acts for some of the key players across the primary and secondary capital markets with clients including Nomura and Asahi Mutual Life; the group advised the latter on its issuance of subordinated perpetual hybrid bonds totalling $350m on the Singapore Exchange. Practice head Reiko Sakimura led the matter and is ‘a great leader who is always able to find fair and practical solutions’; she also acted for Nomura and Mizuho as managers in the issuance of ¥150bn convertible bonds by Kyushu Electric Power and worked with Eiichi Kanda in advising the Republic of Indonesia on its issuance of samurai bonds under private placement totalling ¥100bn. Leng-Fong Lai is recommended for structured finance work and counsel Yasuko Moriwaki is ‘incredibly helpful’.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is ‘one of the best in terms of expertise, willingness to help and responsiveness’. The practice is led by Jon Gray and counsel Christopher Kodama; Gray ‘always thinks about clients first and utilises his sound judgement in the best possible way’ and Kodama is ‘pleasant to work with and dedicated to the matter at hand’. Recent highlights include advising Sushiro Global Holdings on its IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and assisting Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) with its SEC-registered TLAC notes offering. Eugene Gregor transferred to the firm’s Menlo Park office.

Peter Frost, who ‘stands out for his exceptional market knowledge’ jointly leads the capital markets team at Linklaters with Kozo Sasaki, while Motoyasu Fujita and counsel Kenneth Lam are the key names to note for structured products. In a recent highlight, Fujita and Lam advised SMBC as trustee on a repackaging transaction; further highlights include acting for the managers of Daiwa Securities’ debut issuance on the Singapore Exchange totalling $1bn, assisting the lead managers with Central Japan Railway Company’s $600m senior bond issuance, and advising the managers of SMFG’s €1.5bn issuance of TLAC-eligible senior notes on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank are also clients.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP advises a mixed client roster of issuers and underwriters with Citigroup, Daiwa Securities, Mizuho Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Dai-ichi Life Insurance being notable instructing parties. The highly regarded Alan Cannon recently led advice to the underwriters of SMFG’s A$1bn senior notes offering and acted for the underwriters (including Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan) of Line’s IPO, while Takahiro Saito advised Kyushu Railway Company on its ¥416bn global IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and assisted Mizuho Financial Group with multiple senior notes offerings totalling $3bn. David Sneider heads the department.

Key names to note at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP include Izumi Akai and Keiji Hatano; the pair recently acted for JPMorgan Securities, Morgan Stanley and Nomura as international representatives of Kyushu Railway Company’s ¥416bn IPO and advised the managers (including Morgan Stanley, Mizuho and Goldman Sachs) on Recruit Holdings’ global equity offering totalling ¥218bn. The team is also highly regarded for its REIT expertise; work examples include advising GLP J-REIT and Nippon Prologis REIT on separate global investment unit offerings and acting for the international managers of Mori Hills REIT Investment on its ¥23bn investment unit offering. Daiwa Securities, MUFG, SoftBank and Japan Post Holdings Group are also clients.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP counts MUFG as a key client and recently advised on a $5bn senior notes offering, assisting with the $2bn tap issuance of TLAC notes and acting on its SEC-registered public offering of $2.5bn TLAC notes. Further mandates include advising Toyota Industries Commercial Finance on its private placement of $1bn short-term notes, acting for Seven & i Holdings Co. on the share exchange of Nissen Holdings, and assisting Toyota Industries with the establishment of a Euro medium-term note program. Tong Yu and Kaye Naoko Yoshino lead the practice, which also includes associate Makoto Nishigai.

Following the recruitment of Kenji Taneda from Morrison & Foerster LLP in 2016, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has ‘continued to go from strength to strength’, advising on debt and equity offerings. Taneda recently led advice to JPMorgan Securities and others as underwriters of a two-tranche bond offering by JBIC totalling $2.8bn; he also acted for Daiwa House REIT on its ¥44bn global equity offering and assisted Nomura as underwriter with Lixil Viva’s IPO on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Practice head Nobuhisa Ishizuka is recommended for corporate finance transactions and counsel Ken Kiyota is ‘a rising star’.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s ‘fantastic’ department handles the full gamut of capital markets work including public and private offerings, IPOs, samurai bonds, subordinated notes, structured finance, securitisations and derivatives. Ken Takahashi heads the group and his recent work includes acting for HSBC and Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities as lead managers of ICICI Bank’s bond issuance on the Tokyo Pro-Bond Market and handling a convertible bond equity financing for data solutions company Albert. Nomura, JBIC, Universal Entertainment, GE Capital and Barclays Securities Japan are also clients. Akiko Hosokawa and Gavin Raftery handle securitisations and structured finance issues, and Seishi Ikeda is recommended for share and bond issuances. Hiroyoshi Kuromaru joined TMI Associates.

Fuyuo Mitomi leads the practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP, which also includes Kenji Hosokawa, who regularly acts for J-REITs, transactional specialist Mitsutoshi Uchida, and senior counselor Akihiro Wani, who is ‘one of the most popular senior lawyers in the field’. Recent highlights include acting for Nomura, SMBC Nikko Capital Markets and UBS as lead managers on the initial global offering of investment units by Kenedix Retail REIT, advising Senko on a ¥10bn euro convertible bond offering, and assisting GLP J-REIT with a ¥31bn global follow-on offering. Kenji Taneda joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in 2016 and Saori Nakamura retired in early 2017.

As ‘a great firm for US law advice’, Shearman & Sterling has ‘a wealth of experience operating in the Japanese market’, thanks in part to the ‘exceptional knowledge’ of practice head Masahisa Ikeda. Ikeda has notable expertise acting for Japanese corporates in SEC-registered and private placement offerings; he recently advised Toyota on a take-private transaction of Daihatsu Motor involving an SEC registration, and acted for JXTG Holdings on its $16bn business integration with TonenGeneral including a share exchange and related SEC disclosure obligations. Counsels Toshiro Mochizuki and Kana Morimura are also recommended.

At White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association), newly promoted partner Seiji Matsuzoe leads the practice, which is recognised for its structured finance and public offering expertise, particularly when cross-border issues are involved. In a recent matter, Matsuzoe led advice to Starts Proceed Investment on its public offering of investment units totalling ¥24bn. Further areas of expertise for the group include samurai bonds, debt buybacks, IPOs, private offerings and derivatives.

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