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Independent local firms

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: independent local firms
  2. Leading individuals: bengoshi

Leading individuals: bengoshi

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Independent local firms 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


Anderson Mori & Tomotsune provides ‘an exceptionally high level of service’ thanks to its ‘deep industry knowledge, professionalism and client-oriented approach’, which makes it ‘one of the top dispute firms in the country’. Hiroki Wakabayashi and Yoshimasa Furuta jointly head the group and are recommended for advising financial institutions and handling international disputes respectively. Clients also single out the ‘earnest and reliable’ Kenichi Sadaka, who leads the firm’s cross-border litigation practice and regularly advises on fraud issues, litigation relating to transactions and white-collar crime. The ‘excellent’ Shinji Kusakabe is head of the international arbitration team. Aoi Inoue made partner in 2017.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s ‘pragmatic, professional and commercial’ group is jointly led by Mugi Sekido, who is recommended for international arbitration and litigation, and the ‘skilled and knowledgeable’ Kana Manabe, who has a niche strength in contentious antitrust issues. Other key practitioners include Koichiro Iida, Shinichiro Yokota, Shiho Ono and Yoichi Okuda; Okuda recently represented members of an underwriting syndicate in a dispute relating to the accounting irregularities surrounding the IPO of FOI Corporation and its subsequent bankruptcy. Eksportfinans, Tokyo Boeki Steel and Materials, and SoftBank are also clients. Junichi Tobimatsu left to establish Tobimatsu Law.

Norimitsu Arai heads up the ‘leading’ department at Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, which ‘provides a truly great service, especially in terms of responsiveness and business acumen’. With a key strength in international arbitration, the group also handles litigation in the labour and employment space (a key area of focus of Arai), IP (through Ryoichi Mimura), and product liability and environmental tort matters (thanks to the experience of the ‘responsive and thoughtfulHisaya Kimura). Recent highlights include representing Tepco in a shareholders derivative dispute relating to the Fukushima earthquake and power plant disaster, and acting for multiple banks in a suit for damages against Olympus relating to the losses incurred by its filing of false financial reports. Further clients include Merrill Lynch Japan Securities, Samsung and IBM.

As ‘one of the firms at the highest level nationally’, Nishimura & Asahi fields an ‘exceptional’ team, which includes practice head Hiroyuki Tezuka and Akihiro Hironaka. Recent work for Hironaka includes handling a product liability class action, representing a client in international arbitration proceedings and acting in a domestic contract dispute. The practice also represented a Japanese pharmaceutical company in a tax dispute against the National Tax Authority and acted for GEO Holdings in litigation against its former directors relating to breach of directors duties. Sun Chlorella and Best Bridal are also clients.

Recent highlights for Atsumi & Sakai include representing 62 non-Japanese institutional investors and pension funds in a damages claim arising from the high-profile 2011 Olympus scandal, and acting for CAICA in an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) accusing the client of making false statements in its annual securities reports. Tatsuya Fukui and Toyoki Emoto jointly lead the department, which advises domestic and international clients in litigation, arbitration and mediation. Kunihiro Sumida is recommended for labour disputes, London-based Ryuichi Nozaki handles international litigation, Masataka Hayakawa is the key name for corporate regulatory compliance issues and investigations, and Teruhisa Toyama is experienced in securities litigation.

Ryosuke Ito heads up the practice at TMI Associates, which counts tax expert Hidetoshi Masunaga, insolvency specialist Mitsue Aizawa and Tomoki Yanagisawa as key practitioners and saw six individuals promoted to the partnership in 2017. In a recent highlight, Naomichi Chiba defended Yahoo! Japan in a case relating to whether the list of results in search engines violates privacy and reputation rights and rights to be forgotten. Further work includes defending Cremovision and Nihon EVE in separate patent infringement litigation and representing an individual in obtaining a provisional injunction. The team also acts for clients in the pharmaceuticals, electronics, technology and chemical sectors.

At Ushijima & Partners, Osamu Inoue regularly handles construction disputes, Hiroshi Watanabe is highly regarded for his securities litigation expertise, Hiroyasu Kageshima has notable experience in internet infringement matters, and Motohiro Kuroki is recommended for real estate litigation. Watanabe and name partner Shin Ushijima lead the team, which counts Urban Renaissance Agency as a notable client; Inoue represented it in a construction defect case resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Rikisuke Yamanaka is also recommended for his employment, transactional and technology-related litigation expertise.

International firms and joint ventures

Index of tables

  1. Dispute resolution: 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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    • Daniel Allen - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Ben Jolley - Herbert Smith Freehills

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


Herbert Smith Freehillsreceives the highest possible scores’ for its ‘uniformly outstanding service’ and ‘unfailing professionalism’ paired with ‘an uncanny ability to consistently out-lawyer the other side and turn every juncture to the client’s advantage’. Practice head and ‘consummate strategist’ David Gilmore handles international arbitration; the ‘unbelievably insightful’ Emma Kratochvilova is ‘the kind of specialist who only appears once in a generation’ and focuses on the construction sector; and the ‘terrific’ Elaine Wong is recommended for energy cases. Clients also praise the ‘clear-sighted’ Christopher Hunt and ‘highly knowledgeable’ senior associate Ben Jolley. The department is ‘a true powerhouse for international arbitration and litigation’, and acts for clients such as Itochu, Marubeni, Sojitz, Mitsui & Co and Sumitomo. Peter Godwin relocated to the firm’s new Kuala Lumpur office.

As ‘the clear leader in the market for US-focused litigation and international IP disputes’, Morrison & Foerster LLP has ‘an excellent ability to build a realistic and effective strategy in a complex situation’ due to its ‘deep understanding of corporate culture and the Japanese market’. James Hough, who leads the practice, is ‘incredibly responsive’ and ‘his cool, reasonable and logical style always gets the job done effectively’; his recent work includes defending SoftBank in a breach of fiduciary duties claim. Max Olson, Louise Stoupe, Yukihiro Terazawa and Chie Yakura are also recommended; Olson represented Fujitsu Ten in a patent infringement investigation, Stoupe is ‘simply brilliant’, and Terazawa and Yakura handle IP disputes. Steve Comer retired.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP remains ‘a go-to name’ for technology, cybersecurity and regulatory matters, and clients also come from the pharmaceuticals, food, and medical sectors. Recent highlights include defending NEC in a patent infringement matter against Implicit, and advising the Japanese government on various strategic issues relating to cybersecurity. Further clients include the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Yamaha and Dyson Japan. Yoshihiro Takatori heads the department, which includes IP specialist David Case, the ‘excellentShinsuke Yakura, and Yumiko Ohta, who made partner in 2017 and is recommended for employment litigation.

With ‘a team of outstanding trial lawyers’, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’ ‘is always client-oriented’ and ‘excels in IP-related matters, especially those involving the US’. Noteworthy examples include representing Mitsubishi Electric in several high-profile antitrust class actions regarding cathode ray tubes, defending Tsuburaya Productions in litigation pending in the US relating to copyrights and IP rights regarding the Ultraman character and related works, and defending Eizo in a patent infringement claim brought by Barco. Clients cite practice head Ryan Goldstein as ‘a superb lawyer with an amazingly strategic way of thinking and presenting an argument’.

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s ‘very responsive and coordinated practice works exceptionally well with its colleagues internationally’ to advise on cross-border and domestic litigation, international arbitrations and compliance investigations. The group’s client roster features Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Dell and Japan Transport Consulting. Yoshiaki Muto heads up the department, which includes fraud and compliance specialist Kengo Nishigaki; the ‘judicious, reasonable and responsive’ Joel Greer, who is recommended for construction arbitration; Tomohisa Muranushi, who focuses on employment matters; and tax and transfer pricing litigator Hideyuki Yamamoto.

Jones Day leverages its global network to represent clients in the manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, automobile and software sectors. NEC is a key example and the firm is defending it in a patent infringement claim brought by Uniloc. Maxwell Fox led the matter and is recognised for his IP litigation expertise. The practice is led by Takashi Tanazawa, whose experience spans product liability claims, tort cases, contract disputes and employment litigation. Koichi Inoue is recommended for tax litigation.

At King & Spalding, Christopher Bailey has ‘outstanding presentation skills and communication capabilities’, which make him ‘a highly commercial practitioner’, who clients ‘definitely want fighting their corner’. The practice remains focused on outbound contentious work for Japanese clients, particularly those in the energy, infrastructure, construction, manufacturing and automotive sectors. Associate and barrister Oliver McEntee joined the practice in 2017 and specialises in real estate, fraud and construction disputes.

Kensuke Inoue heads the department at Ashurst and draws on his corporate expertise to advise on M&A-related disputes alongside handling engineering and real estate contract litigation, employment disputes and other contractual cases. Inoue regularly handles inbound disputes for international clients and is also receiving increased instructions from Japanese clients; notable examples include JBIC, MHI, Modec and Marubeni-Itochu Steel. Counsel Anthony Hague is also a name to note; he acts on commercial and construction, disputes, regulatory investigations, white-collar crime, and arbitrations.

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Nicholas Lingard (who splits his time between Tokyo and Singapore) heads up the international arbitration team, which is a key area of strength for the practice. Recent work examples include representing a Japanese conglomerate in a dispute surrounding an infrastructure construction project in Taiwan, acting for a Japanese trading house in the enforcement of an arbitral award in Saudi Arabia, and representing Eurus Energy in an investment treaty arbitration against Spain. Bloomberg, Marubeni, Sojitz and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan are also clients. Daniel Allen is ‘one of the best senior associates around’. Akiko Yamakawa and Kazuki Okada departed.

Takahiro Hoshino now leads the team at K&L Gates, following the departure of Haig Oghigian to Squire Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho. The practice acts for foreign and domestic Japanese clients in a range of commercial disputes, arbitrations and criminal court proceedings, with considerable expertise in employment and workplace-related disputes. Hoshino’s clients span a wide range of fields including the financial services, technology, healthcare, aviation and leisure sectors.

At O’Melveny, office head Yoji Maeda handles domestic and international litigation and arbitration and is recognised for his employment knowledge; he leverages his experience in the US and domestic courts to represent clients before the labour commissions. Other key names to note include counsel Yukie Kurosawa, who is recognised for her white-collar crime expertise, and Hiroko Nihei (also counsel), who is the key contact for cross-border disputes, particularly international arbitrations and antitrust investigations.

Squire Gaikokuho Kyodo Jigyo Horitsu Jimusho is now ‘a key name in the market’ for international arbitration thanks to its recruitment of senior counsel Haig Oghigian from K&L Gates in 2016. The ‘knowledgeable and highly experienced’ team was also bolstered by the addition of data privacy and cybersecurity specialist Scott Warren from an in-house position and associate Lingyun Zhuang, who joined from TMI Associates in 2016 and focuses on China-related litigation, working closely with the firm’s offices in Beijing and Shanghai. David Miyamoto, who splits his time between Tokyo and Los Angeles, is also recommended and represents Asian-based multinationals in international litigation and arbitration.

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