Leading Individuals: Gaiben

Firms To Watch: Antitrust and competition: Independent local firms

Focuses on competition law, Hirayama Law Offices is spearheaded by founder Kentaro Hirayama, who advises on domestic and international cartels, unfair trade practices, predatory pricing, abuse of standard essential patents, and merger filings.
Masayuki Atsumi leads the Miura & Partners practice that handles a range of JFTC investigations and merger control defences, as well as general antitrust law consulting.

Antitrust and competition: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune has experience representing clients before all the major antitrust authorities, including the JFTC, the US DOJ and FTC, the European Commission, China’s SAMR, Korea’s KFTC, Singapore’s CCCS and India’s CCI, as well as other authorities active in antitrust enforcement and merger control investigations. The firm specialises in high-profile, complex international cartel investigations and merger control transactions; in addition to these core practices, the department is well regarded for its skill in formulating and implementing global antitrust strategies. The deep bench of expertise is co-led by Hideto Ishida, Shigeyoshi Ezaki, Yusuke Nakano  and Atsushi Yamada. English qualified lawyer Vassili Moussis  is also a name to note, and focuses on EU and international competition.

Other key lawyers:

Vassili Moussis

Key clients

LINE Corporation (“LINE”)

Slack Technologies Inc.

Tiffany & Co.

Suzuken Co., Ltd.

Nitori Holdings Co.

Nissin Kogyo Co., Ltd.

Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Tomoku Co., Ltd.

Bunka Shutter Co., Ltd.

Denso Corporation (“Denso”)

Stellantis

Work highlights

  • Advised LINE Corporation on the business integration between LINE and Z Holdings (A Softbank company).
  • Advising Slack Technologies on proposed acquisition by Salesforce (ongoing).
  • Advising Suzuken in a rare criminal litigation before the Tokyo District Court (ongoing).

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

The Mori Hamada & Matsumoto team combines experience working at the Japanese Fair Trade Commission with expertise in antitrust law in the United States and EU. Key strengths include large-scale cross-border merger filings as well as global investigations for domestic and foreign clients. Kenji Ito  specialises in merger control, government investigations, private actions and antitrust counselling; he co-leads the practice with Hideki Utsunomiya , who handles complex mergers, government investigations and private actions. Another notable name in the area is Tomoya Fujita, who focuses on M&A and merger control and competition law, including domestic and cross-border merger filings.

Practice head(s):

Kenji Ito; Hideki Utsunomiya

Other key lawyers:

Tomoya Fujita ; Yusuke Takamiya

Testimonials

‘Unlike many of the antitrust teams in Japan, the MHM lawyers are very practical, straightforward, and unafraid to be aggressive when appropriate. I have worked with them on multiple matters and find that they are easy to deal with and responsive. Clients also get along well with them. ’

‘MHM are one of the top Japanese law firms. They have a specialist competition law department which is definitely at the top of its game’.

‘Kenji Ito is a true competition specialist. Very experienced and knowledgeable about the JFTC’s approach on competition matters. Also collaborative and great with international clients. Yusuke Takamiya is a junior partner specialised in competition law. We have worked with him on a number of matters and I have found him to be very responsive, user friendly and with a genuine expertise in competition law’.

Key clients

Hitachi, Ltd.

JXTG Holdings, Inc.

FamilyMart Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Acted for Z Holdings Corporation (Yahoo! Japan) in an integration between Japan’s major digital platform operators, Yahoo Japan Corporation and Line Corporation.  led the entire process of merger review and managed in-depth investigation by the JFTC including complex econometric analyses and numerous substantive questions, negotiated the scope of remedies, and achieved satisfactory results for the client.
  • Acting for Hitachi, Ltd in designing the remedies and successfully obtained clearances acceptable to the parties, in relation to the sale of Hitachi’s diagnostic imaging device business to Fujifilm Holdings. Certain products supplied by the target business earn huge market shares globally and are essential for Fujifilm’s competitors, so authorities carefully reviewed the transaction.
  • Acted for Hitachi, Ltd on the integration of major Japanese autoparts makers to create a new global mega-supplier which triggered filings in numerous jurisdictions. Acted for  Hitachi, which became the parent of the integrated company, and its (former) subsidiary, Hitachi Automotive Systems, and led the entire process of merger filings in and out of Japan.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

The antitrust and competition practice of Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is experienced across sector, including pharmaceutical, IT, semiconductor, financial services, retail and automobiles. As well as substantial cross-border expertise, the firm has a longstanding relationship with the JFTC, allowing it provide clients full service advice in the area. Antitrust and competition law specialist Eriko Watanabe  leads the team that includes Kaoru Hattori, who handles cartel investigations; Yoshitoshi Imoto , who focuses on merger cases, antitrust government investigations and compliance matters; and Ryohei Tanaka, who represents multi-national firms as well as large Japanese corporation in merger control proceedings before the JFTC.

Practice head(s):

Eriko Watanabe

Testimonials

‘NO&T has a very strong, dilligent and hands on team. We have been involved in various cartel investigations and merger control matters together in the past years. They are very focused and responsive and know very well the market.’

‘Kaoru Hattori is very intelligent and sharp in her comments and advice.’

‘Yoshitoshi Imoto is one of the best Japanese lawyers I have worked with. He is very fast and complete.’

‘Super organized team – we were very impressed by them keeping on top of things.’

‘The competition practice of Nagashima Ohno is one of the best in Town. It is one of the big four with a wealth of expertise and experience. ’

‘The partner I work with is Yoshihito (Yoshi) Imoto. He is a brilliant lawyer, very dependable, intelligent, creative and enjoyable to work with. ’

Key clients

Infineon Technologies AG

ZOZO, Inc.

Suzuki Motor Corporation

FUJIFILM Corporation

Peugeot SA

Softbank KK

Panasonic Corporation

Isuzu Motors Ltd.

Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Peugeot S.A. in its consolidation with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.
  • Advised CVC Asia Pacific Limited in its acquisition of Shiseido’s Personal Care business by K.K. Oriental Beauty Holding.
  • Advised FUJIFILM Corporation in its acquisition of Hitachi’s diagnostic imaging-related business.

Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi is known for handling major domestic merger cases, as well as merger filings in Japan as local counsel for cross-border and offshore M&A transactions. The firm combines this experience with expertise in cases subject to Second Phase review at the JFTC and has particular strength in merger control in the energy space; the practice is also active in the steel, automotive, pharmaceutical, IT-digital and semiconductor sectors. The team has notable strength in negotiating with the JFTC and is led by Kozo Kawai, who focuses on antitrust and competition law, international trade affairs, disputes and regulatory investigations.

Practice head(s):

Kozo Kawai

Key clients

Nippon Steel Corporation

Toshiba Corporation

SHOWA DENKO K.K.

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

Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Broadcom Inc.

Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

ENEOS Holdings, Inc.

MUFG Bank, Ltd.

Google Japan G.K.

Amazon Japan G.K.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.

Aisin Corporation

NAVER Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Mitsui Sugar Co., Ltd. on a complex business integration and a capital and business alliance among Japan’s leading sugar manufacturers.
  • Advised Nippon Paper Crecia on its business alliance with Try-Fu Co., Ltd. related to the towel paper business. Both Nippon Paper Crecia and Try-Fu are major producers of paper towels in Japan.
  • Advised South Korean internet giant NAVER Corporation on an agreement among NAVER, its subsidiary LINE Corporation, SoftBank Corporation, and Z Holdings Corporation (Softbank’s subsidiary, which is the parent company of Yahoo Japan), on the integration of LINE and ZHD.

TMI Associates

The TMI Associates antitrust practice is boosted by substantial international expertise, and the firm combines offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Ho chi minh, Hanoi, Yangon, Singapore, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Silicon Valley and London, with a global network of joint enterprises with US, UK and European of law firms. The experienced team of antitrust and competition practitioners is co-led by Harumichi Uchida, Yohsuke Higuchi, Koichiro Hanamoto, Daigo Fujii and Kentaro Toda, all of whom also have cross-border experience.

Testimonials

‘The team’s a one-stop-shop  for legal service for clients. In particular, it is capable of all the matters whether domestic or international; investigations or merger clearances; or small/mid/large-sized matters, or otherwise.’

‘They are practical. They have a good commercial sense as well as good legal knowledge. Yohsuke Higuchi, a leading competition law partner of the team.’

‘I have found the competition law team very approachable and responsive. They give well thought out advice quickly and are willing to be flexible to European time zones.’

‘Mr Hanamoto and Mr Higuehi are the two partners I know best. Both speak and write good English and provide pragmatic and useful advice.’

Key clients

Keihin Corporation

DENSO Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Keihin Corporation regarding its merger with Showa Corporation, Nisshin Kogyo Co., Ltd., and Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd.

Atsumi & Sakai

Experienced in a range of domestic and international merger control cases, Atsumi & Sakai handles M&As, joint ventures, business tie-ups and corporate reorganizations. A specialism for the firm is advising and coordinating with local counsel and civil enforcement authorities in international cartel investigation cases in the auto-parts and shipping industries, but the practice is also increasingly active in antitrust compliance and risk management advice. Another key area of expertise is litigation matters related to the Anti-Monopoly Act of Japan. Setsuko Yufu leads the team and focuses on domestic and international competition matters, cartel investigations, merger controls, dominant position issues and commercial transactions. Other key names include competition law and cartel investigations expert Tatsuo Yamashima , and Masayuki Matsuura , who handles domestic and international merger control cases.

Practice head(s):

Setsuko Yufu

Other key lawyers:

Tatsuo Yamashima; Masayuki Matsuura; Kohei Murakawa; Saori Hanada

Testimonials

‘Tatsuo Yamashima has a practical understanding of our company’s business.’

‘They always understand what the goals and wishes of clients are and try to figure out best solutions for the clients. They have high professional knowledge and experience especially in Competition law. They can advise a practical approach using their knowledge and experience.’

‘Mr. Kohei Murakawa is quite outstanding. He always tries to offer best the service to the client utilizing his professional knowledge and experience. His advice is right and practical. Ms.Setsuko Yufu and Ms. Saori Hanada also stand out. Ms. Hanada always tries to offer the opportunity of meeting so as to understand the clients’ situation.’

‘Atsumi & Sakai are one of the very few truly independent local firms with a top-notch competition team. The team is fully integrated with highly competent lawyers at all levels of seniority. The team is also very much ahead of the competition as far as diversity and inclusion is concerned.’

‘Critical lawyers in the team include Setsuko Yufu and Saori Hanada. Yufu-sensei heads the team. She is very smart, thinks strategically and is usually a few steps ahead of the others. Hanada-sensei is also an excellent lawyers with wide experience in all areas of antitrust and merger control. ’

City-Yuwa Partners

The experienced City-Yuwa Partners practice primarily focuses on merger, unilateral conduct, alleged violation cases under the Subcontract Act, and alleged violation cases under the Act against unjustifiable premiums and misleading representations. In addition, the firm handles leniency applications and violation declarations by clients, as well as negotiations with the JFTC or the Consumer Affairs Agency to reach a settlement/final decision without unexpected remedies, or surcharges. Teruhisa Ishii and Yoshihiro Sakano co-lead the team and both have significant experience with the JFTC; Sakano acts as defence counsel in investigation cases, and Ishii also has a background within the merger division of the JFTC.

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

The experienced Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners antitrust and competition practice is particularly strong in the areas of merger control and JFTC investigations, as well as providing expertise in competition/consumer protection litigation and compliance issues. The team is co-led by Takashi Ishii, Kagenori Sako and Tetsuya Nagasawa; the latter of whom successfully acted for Maxvalu Nishinihon Co in a matter against the JFTC related to a suspicion of abuse of superior bargaining position.

Practice head(s):

Takashi Ishii; Kagenori Sako; Tetsuya Nagasawa

Key clients

Maxvalu Nishinihon Co., Ltd.

Secoma Company, Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Successfully acted for Maxvalu Nishinihon in relation to a cease and desist order and the surcharge payment order from the JFTC on suspicion of having abused superior bargaining position.
  • Represented Secoma Company in a suit filed by Saikawa against them for damages.