Antitrust and competition: International firms and joint ventures in Japan

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)

The Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise) antirust and competition practice group is regularly involved in all aspects of cross-border antitrust and competition work in jurisdictions such as North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region. The team works seamlessly across the firm’s global network and within Japan to provide support on domestic and international cartel matters and internal investigations for multi-national corporates. In addition, the firm is adept a dealing with Fair Trade Commission inspections and other similar agencies, and advising in relation to corporate merger control regulations for group re-organisations. The team is co-led by Junya AE and Dr Akira Inoue. Ae’s former government official experience bolsters his cross-border cartel and merger control practice. Inoue is also a competition policy expert and regularly consults with the Japanese government. Michio Suzuki was promoted to partner, and at the non-partner level Hiroaki Nagahashii and Ryo Yamaguchi are of note.

Practice head(s):

Junya Ae; Akira Inoue

Other key lawyers:

Michio Suzuki; Hiroaki Nagahashi; Ryo Yamaguchi


‘Antitrust and competition team in Baker & Mackenzie is very unique in many points including its very strong global network, each member’s expertise and extensive knowledge in the antitrust and competition area.’

‘The firm is one of the top global legal firms, and the team can provide advisory services in antitrust and competition practices in multiple jurisdictions through their global network, that is very helpful for clients who considers cross-border M&As and PEs.‘

‘They provide us with excellent service. They always handle the case appropriately based on their wealth of experience and knowledge, and the attitude is polite and quick, and I think their service is worth the price.’

‘We appreciate the team’s efforts on flexible billing arrangement considering our circumstances and on diversity & inclusion aspects of team organization, which bring balanced advises of their services.’

‘Akira Inoue, PhD, is highly professional and all the times bring me updates on the latest cases. Also, he suggests very much down-to-earth solutions when a case is stuck; it is a very beneficial point as in most cases our aim it to settle each case but not to have the very strict legal interpretation.’

‘Under the leadership by Junya Ae, they valuably pursue commercialism of our businesses taking a balance with competition law compliance making full use of their abundant knowledge and information as a competition law expert so that our business and our member companies may not infringe competition law.’

Key clients

Sumitomo Corporation

MUFG Bank, Ltd.

FUJIFILM Corporation

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

AGC Inc.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group

Hitachi Ltd.

Sojitz Corporation

Toyota Tsusho Corporation

Yazaki Corporation

Murata Manufacturing

Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc.

Japan Bearing Industry Association

NHK Spring Co. Ltd.

Sanden Corporation

KYB Corporation

JERA Co., Inc.

Okaya Electric Industries Co., Ltd.

Bridgestone Corporation

Work highlights

  • Represented and advised Hitachi, Ltd. on merger control and foreign investment review aspects of acquisition of ABB Ltd.’s global power grid business (deal value: approximately USD6.8 billion).
  • Represented and advised NHK Spring Co., Ltd. on the global cartel investigations for the disk suspension used for hard disk drive in 8 jurisdictions including U.S., Japan and Taiwan.
  • Represented and advised Ube Industries Co., Ltd. on merger control aspects of the transaction where Ube and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation integrate their cement businesses (deal value: approximately USD 3.3 billion). The transaction involved merger filing in 7 jurisdictions including Japan, U.S., EU and China.

Morrison Foerster

Morrison Foerster's antitrust practice offers Japanese and non-Japanese clients an extensive depth of antitrust expertise across a number of industries. The firm regularly works on matters in the technology, automotive, transport, and pharmaceutical industries on merger reviews, monopoly issues, cartel matters, unfair trade practices, and administrative fines cases. The team is led by Tokyo and Brussels-based Rony Gerrits, who is also the co-chair of the firm’s global antitrust law practice group, and an expert in global cartel cases and follow-on civil damages litigation. Chie Yakura bolsters the team's technology-related antitrust disputes practice, and regularly serves as lead counsel. Tomohiko Kimura and Daiske Yoshida also specialise in merger control, cartel defence, anti-corruption, and unfair trade practices investigations. Takahiro Nonaka is also a name of note, having joined from DLA Piper as is Andrew Meyer. Nonaka focuses on government and internal investigations, and Meyer is a litigation specialist.

Practice head(s):

Rony Gerrits

Other key lawyers:

Chie Yakura; Daiske Yoshida; Kazuyasu Yoneyama; Andrew Meyer; Tomohiko Kimura; Takahiro Nonaka


‘Excellent understanding of global antitrust rules. Their ability to integrate closely with our company and understand the way we operate globally is unique.’

‘The antitrust team specializes in practical, responsive competition advice, in particular dealing with regulators/investigators in Europe, the US or other parts of the world.’

Key clients

Hitachi, Ltd.

Renesas Electronics Corp.

Toshiba Corporation


Gilead Sciences Inc.


Sumitomo Corporation

Santen Pharmaceutical


ON Semiconductor

Work highlights

  • Advising SoftBank and Arm on U.S. and global antitrust aspects of $40 billion sale of Arm to NVIDIA.
  • Acted for Sprint Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp. in successfully closing the landmark $59 billion merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.
  • Represented Santen in its newly formed joint venture with Alphabet subsidiary Verily.

White & Case LLP - White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association)

White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association)’s Tokyo office operates one of the leading antitrust and competition practices in Japan, advising Japanese and international clients on high-profile antitrust matters in Japan and abroad. The firm offers antitrust advise in relations to M&A matters, cartel investigations, and counselling for an impressive client list. The practice is led by Toshio Dokei, who has a background as a judge and provides insights to clients on contentious antitrust matters. Dokei also regularly represents clients before the Japanese Fair Trade Commission and courts. Also of note is Takako Onoki, who has extensive experience advising on antitrust investigations and litigation for global mergers and transactions. Recent highlights for the firm include advising Panasonic Corporation on its acquisition of the remaining 80% of capital stock interests of Blue Yonder.

Practice head(s):

Toshio Dokei

Other key lawyers:

Takako Onoki


‘They make good use of the time difference between the United States and Japan and respond quickly. They have achieved a great result in the settlement negotiation of the proceeding.’

‘The White & Case office in Tokyo has very good ties with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, which is helpful for us.’

‘We sought their advice in relation to the ongoing investigation by the authority. They provided their service to us promptly and their fees were reasonable. Their advice and products were easy for our management team to understand, which was very helpful for us, the legal division.

‘They have experience handling high profile antitrust cases involving foreign capitalized businesses in Japan, are well aware of antitrust case trends globally. They have good insight on the regulatory and enforcement practices in Japan, as they have on staff an advisor who is a respected professor in this field and the ex-JFTC official.’

‘They are very customer-friendly and generous with their time. They sponsored several complementary events and webinars during the pandemic, which were helpful. They also volunteer their time generously to help the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan on a pro-bono basis. They should be recognized for their valuable contributions to the legal community in Japan.’

Key clients

Panasonic Corporation

DIC Corporation



Maruyasu Industries Co., Ltd.

Mizuho Leasing Company, Limited.

Canon Medical Systems Corp.

Saudi Arabian Oil Company

Work highlights

  • Advised Panasonic Corporation on its acquisition of Blue Yonder,a leading end-to-end, digital fulfillment platform provider, at an enterprise value of US$8.5 billion on a cash-free, debt-free basis.
  • Advised Saudi Aramco on its US$70 billion acquisition of SABIC. White & Case secured unconditional merger approvals for the deal in 25 jurisdictions, including Japan, the EU, China, India, and Brazil.
  • Advised DIC Corporation and its US subsidiary Sun Chemical Corporation, in connection with DIC’s proposed acquisition of BASF’s global pigments business, known as BASF Colors & Effects (BCE).

Jones Day

The Jones Day antitrust and competition practice serves domestic and international clients across a wide range of corporate transactions. The team also sits within the firm’s integrated global antitrust practice. Led by Hiromitsu Miyakawa, the group has particular strengths in litigation, large-scale M&A and joint venture advice and B2B strategies. The Tokyo team also has a strong cartel investigation practice for investigations before the Japan Fair Trade Commission and other similar enforcement agencies.

Practice head(s):

Hiromitsu Miyakawa

Key clients

CBRE Group, Inc.

Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance’s antitrust and competition practice is led by Masafumi Shikakura and is part of the firm's fully integrated global antitrust practice. The team handles both transactional and regulatory matters - both contentious and non-contentious work and supports the firm's global offering. Issues handled by the Tokyo office include competition issues relating to group reorganisations, M&A, and joint ventures.

Practice head(s):

Masafumi Shikakura


‘Attorney Masafumi Shikakura (Counsel, Head of Japan Antitrust) always not only supports our antitrust and competition matters but also help us on buildup of our internal legal system.’

‘They have a diligent team in Tokyo, and the quality of their English language work products stands out among other similar firms.’

‘While being a large global law firm, the team is always available and flexible in providing legal services.’

Key clients

Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Marubeni Corporation

Mizuho Leasing Company, Limited

Shell International Limited

China Baowu Steel Group Corporation Limited

NSK Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Shell International Limited on the acquisition of 100 percent of the shares in Shell Lubricants Japan K.K. from Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.
  • Advised NSK Ltd. on its acquisition of Brüel & Kjær Vibro, the global condition monitoring system (CMS) business, from Spectris Plc.
  • Advised China Baowu Steel Group Corporation Limited for its acquisition of a 51% stake in Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) Co. Ltd.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ antitrust and competition team is particularly strong in its multi-jurisdictional merger control work. The Tokyo team is led by Graeme Preston, working closely with Kyriakos Fountoukakos and Adelaide Luke in Brussels and Hong Kong respectively. The Japanese practice is split across practitioners in Japan, Belgium, Hong Kong, London and the US to provide “on the ground” expertise for Japanese clients in Japan and cross-border matters, with the the Tokyo based competition team at the core. As well as merger control, the firm also advises on cartel investigations, compliance, and competition disputes for some of Japan’s most globally active companies.

Practice head(s):

Kyriakos Fountoukakos; Graeme Preston; Adelaide Luke


‘HSF combine strong capabilities in antitrust matters with corporate/M&A and litigation expertise. This means the antitrust team is able to advise clients on antitrust matters aligned with their needs. HSF have genuine experts in these fields based in multiple jurisdictions.’

‘Kyriakos Fountoukakos has been especially responsive and engaging, and always goes beyond my expectations.’

‘They help us to establish our company wide merger filling platform to manage legal risk, information, workflow by setting up system based on HighQ and arranging competitive fee structure and dedicated attorneys.’

‘Joel Rheuben is a very capable senior associated, whose experiences are well suited to advising Japanese clients.’

Key clients

Sumitomo Corporation

Mitsubishi Corporation

Sojitz Corporation

ITOCHU Corporation

Furukawa Electric

Panasonic Corporation


Sumitomo Metal Mining


Asahi Kasei Homes

Toyota Tsusho

Bridgestone Corporation

Nachi Fujikoshi

Hitachi Construction Machinery

Kansai Electric

Work highlights

  • Advised Bridgestone Corporation on the competition and regulatory aspects of its proposed acquisition of Otraco International Pty Ltd., an Australian company engaged in the automotive services sector specifically for mining vehicles, including conducting merger control and FDI analysis and preparing filings in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand
  • Representing Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) as respondent in the Competition Appeal Tribunal and a claim brought by twelve financial groups in the Commercial Court in connection with litigation stemming from the European Commission’s decision relating to foreign exchange trading
  • Advising an automotive component company on regulatory options in relation to responding to the global shortage of semi-conductor supplies

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling’s antitrust and competition offering provides EU and US competition advice and services to Japanese corporate clients and financial institutions. The firm regularly works alongside US and Europe counterparts and is instructed in multi-jurisdictional cartel investigations, class action litigation, merger control matters, antitrust counselling, and compliance. Corporate and M&A expert Toshiro Mochizuki  co-leads the practice with Kana Morimura, who recently was promoted to partner. Head of the Tokyo office Masahisa Ikeda also contributes to the practice.

Practice head(s):

Masahisa Ikeda; Toshiro Mochizuki; Kana Morimura


‘Shearman has a good antitrust/competition law team in the US and Europe and has a good client base globally. They have a strong energy practice group and thus have a good experience of energy related competition law matters.’