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  1. Shipping: independent local firms
  2. Leading individuals: bengoshi

Leading individuals: bengoshi

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The team at Hiratsuka & Co is ‘very strong’ and stands out for advising non-Japanese clients in court cases, arbitrations and negotiations. It has filed claims on behalf of non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and cargo interests against the limitation fund of the MOL Comfort, a container ship which broke into two in the Indian Ocean in 2013; liability claims have also been filed against the Japanese shipyard, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which built the MOL Comfort. Practice head Makoto Hiratsuka is ‘a star performer in any type of maritime dispute’.

At boutique shipping firm Max Law Office, one ‘cannot speak too highly’ of practice head Takayuki Matsui’s ‘knowledge, tenacity and perceptiveness’, and Rie Akiba is another name to note. The firm is handling the MOL Comfort case with regard to foreign interests in the Tokyo District Court. Other work highlights include a case concerning a collision and oil spill in Tokyo Bay in 2014 and advising several P&I clubs regarding the insolvency of a bunker supplier in Denmark.

Okabe & Yamaguchi is acting for Sompo Japan and other cargo underwriters in the headline MOL Comfort case. It is also assisting various cargo underwriters in a case concerning the loss of more than ¥600m in the Sunflower Daistsu ferry fire. Shuji Yamaguchi, who is cargo claim and maritime insurance specialist, and Hiroki Okabe, who heads the collision and salvage team, are highly recommended.

Headed by Mitsuhiro Toda, the team at Law Offices of Toda & Co specialises in wet shipping cases and casualty matters, as well as related proceedings for ship arrests, limitation of shipowners’ liabilities and other issues.

Atsumi & Sakai is strong in ship finance transactions and mainly acts for financial institutions. The client base also includes shipowners and trading companies. Yutaka Sakai is a key contact.

TMI Associates’ shipping team is led by Jumpei Osada. The practice has been handling a number of ship finance matters, advising lenders, borrowers and arrangers on corporate loans, financial leases and investments into newly built and second-hand vessels.

Yoshida & Partners is ‘well known’ for shipping litigation and casualty work. Tetsuro Nakamura and Masahiro Amemiya are recommended.

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