Antitrust and competition: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Known for international competition work, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune has experience representing clients before major antitrust authorities, including the JFTC, the DOJ and FTC, the European Commission, China’s SAMR and Singapore’s CCCS. The firm is also active in antitrust enforcement and merger control investigations. Co-leading the practice are: former special investigator with the Japan Fair Trade Commission Hideto Ishida; Shigeyoshi Ezaki, who specialises in antitrust cases in foreign jurisdictions; Yusuke Nakano, who has experience in merger control and regulatory filings; and Atsushi Yamada, who acts in cartel, merger and unilateral conduct matters. Also notable in the team are cartel and merger control expert Vassili Moussis and senior associate Naoki Uemura, who joined from the JFTC in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Hideto Ishida; Shigeyoshi Ezaki; Yusuke Nakano; Atsushi Yamada

Other key lawyers:

Vassili Moussis; Naoki Uemura

Key clients

Qualcomm Inc.

Bunka Shutter Co., Ltd.

Mitsubishi Paper Mills Limited

A.P. Moller – Maersk A/S

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, SA

Hawaiian Airlines

Microchip Technology Incorporated

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented Qualcomm Inc. in a hearing proceeding before the Japan Fair Trade Commission related to alleged violation of Japan’s Antimonopoly Act purportedly based on certain licensing provisions with mobile phone manufacturers.
  • Representing ka Shutter Co., Ltd. that has been issued a Cease and Desist Order and a surcharge payment order by the Japan Fair Trade Commission in relation to a price-fixing cartel.
  • Successfully represented Oji Holdings Corporation’s merger filing with the JFTC in connection with the partial acquisition by Oji HD of Mitsubishi Paper Mills Limited.
  • Filed amendments to notification under the Maritime Transportation Act of Japan, which is required to obtain antitrust immunity, on behalf of the A.P. Moller – Maersk A/S on 2M alliance.
  • Advised Hawaiian Airlines on the competition law aspects of its cooperation agreement with Japan Airlines.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto has expertise handling complex, cross-border merger filings, as well as global investigations for both domestic and foreign clients. Within the team there is also experience working at the Japanese Fair Trade Commission and practising antitrust law in the United States. Kenji Ito focuses on merger control, government investigation, private action, and antitrust counseling. He co-leads the practice with Hideki Utsunomiya, who is known for large and complex mergers, government investigations, and private actions. Also notable is Tomoya Fujita, who specialises in M&As and the merger control side of antitrust/competition law.

Practice head(s):

Kenji Ito; Hideki Utsunomiya

Other key lawyers:

Tomoya Fujita

Key clients

Hitachi, Ltd.

Showa Shell Sekiyu, K.K.

JXTG Holdings, Inc.

FamilyMart Co., Ltd.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is known for its international cartel work and strong consultation practice. The firm also has experience in merger control and antitrust mandates. Former deputy director of the Fair Trade Commission Eriko Watanabe leads the practice and can call on the expertise of Kaoru Hattori, who is non-governmental advisor member of the JFTC, as well as Yoshitoshi Imoto, who focuses on merger cases and complex antitrust government investigations, as well as the compliance matters for domestic and international companies. Also notable is Ryohei Tanaka, who represents multinational firms and Japanese corporations in merger control proceedings before the JFTC.

Practice head(s):

Eriko Watanabe


‘A very responsive and knowledgeable team in competition law practice area.’

Work highlights

  • Advised shire Plc. issues related to Takeda’s acquisition of Shire.

Nishimura & Asahi

With a cross-border specialist practice, Nishimura & Asahi has particular expertise in merger control in the energy and steel-related sectors. The practice is known for handling merger filings in Japan, acting as local counsel for multijurisdictional and offshore M&A cases. Practice head Kozo Kawai focuses on anti-trust/competition matters and international trade affairs, as well as large-scale disputes and domestic and foreign regulatory investigations. Notable in his team is Kojiro Fujii, who led in acting for Airbnb in the defence of two challenges related to alleged unfair trade practices, while complying with the JFTC’s compulsory investigation requests.

Practice head(s):

Kozo Kawai

Other key lawyers:

Kojiro Fujii

Key clients

Nippon Steel Corporation (formerly Nippon Steel Sumitomo Metal Corporation)

Toshiba Corporation


Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (“K” LINE)

The Dow Chemical Company

Broadcom Corporation

Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.

Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.

Nachi-Fujikoshi Corporation

Pfizer Holdings K.K.

JXTG Holding Corporation

Mitsubishi UFG Bank

Google Japan G.K.

Amazon Japan G.K.

Tokyo Electric Power Company

Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Nippon Steel Corporation on its global merger filing in connection with their acquisition of 51.5% of the voting shares of Sanyo Special Steel Co., Ltd, a Japanese steel manufacturer specialising in specialty steel.
  • Advising Nippon Steel Corporation on a global merger filing in connection with its joint venture with ArcelorMittal S.A. to jointly acquire and manage Essar Steel India Ltd.
  • Advised The Walt Disney Company on its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, carrying out a merger review in Japan as well as providing other regulatory advice in Japan.
  • Advised Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. on its acquisition of Shire plc, an Irish pharmaceutical company, carrying out a merger review in Japan as well as providing other regulatory advice in Japan. The firm handled the corporate matters and acted as antitrust counsel to Takeda.
  • Advised Broadcom Corporation on its acquisition of CA Technologies, carrying out a merger review in Japan.

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai specialises in multijurisdictional antitrust matters, including large-scale international cartel cases. Domestically the firm is also experienced dealing with bid-rigging involving government officials. The practice is led by Setsuko Yufu, who has a particular focus on international transactions, merger control and a range of competition law issues. Notable in the team are: Tatsuo Yamashima, who has experience in cartels and merger controls with the JFTC and other foreign enforcement authorities, as well as handling a wide range of competition matters including a major international shipping cartel case; and Masayuki Matsuura, who has expertise in antitrust law and M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Setsuko Yufu

Other key lawyers:

Masayuki Matsuura; Tatsuo Yamashima


‘An international perspective and solid client base – with complete trust and understanding of the client’

‘Around the clock availability and exceptional delivery make this firm stand out amongst its peers in the Japanese market’

‘The competition team is a truly integrated team which consistently delivers excellent quality of service’

‘Atsumi & Sakai has a very skillful team that have being working in major international cartel investigations’

‘They are an excellent professional legal team’

‘Saori Hanada and her team stand out in particular for her skills and work product’

‘Setsuko Yufu is a well-respected, top-notch lawyer with extensive experience in all areas of competition law’

‘Ms Hanada, Mr Yamashima and Mr Matsuura each stand out because of their solution-driven and creative approach to complex problems’

TMI Associates

Full-service firm TMI Associates provides practical knowledge of the JFTC, cross-border expertise and a business consulting practice. The team is co-led by Harumichi Uchida, who specialises in M&A, general corporate law, competition, and dispute resolution; Yohsuke Higuchi, who represents companies on international cartel matters and merger control regulations; Koichiro Hanamoto, who is known for for providing consultation services regarding competition laws and support for large-scale investigations; former JFTC investigator Daigo Fujii; and Kentaro Toda, who was promoted to partner in 2019. Yusuke Kashiwagi left to set up Koike & Kashiwagi Law Office in 2018.

Practice head(s):

Harumichi Uchida; Yohsuke Higuchi; Koichiro Hanamoto; Daigo Fujii; Kentaro Toda

Key clients

DENSO Corporation

Work highlights

  • Represented Denso Corporation in its acquisition of one of the important Pioneer group companies.
  • Represented Denso Corporation in its acquisition of one of the important Fujitsu group companies.

City-Yuwa Partners

City-Yuwa Partners has experience in a range of matters including merger cases, unilateral conduct cases, as well as violations under the Subcontract Act and under the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations. The firm also assists leniency applications and violation declarations by clients. Teruhisa Ishii leads the practice with Yoshihiro Sakano, who is the director of the Japan Competition Law Forum and a non-governmental advisor for the JFTC.

Practice head(s):

Yoshihiro Sakano; Teruhisa Ishii

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

Known for competition and consumer protection litigation cases, Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners acts for international and domestic clients in a range of matters. Tetsuya Nagasawa is a key name in this area and his expertise includes government investigations, consumer protection litigation, and merger control.