Firms To Watch: Dispute resolution: Independent local firms

Expert in civil and commercial disputes, boutique AI-EI Law Firm has particular strength in contentious labour and employment matters.
Katsumigaseki International Law Office provides cross border litigation and arbitration exertise, combing this with experience in contentious bankrupcy matters. Yoshihiro Takatori is practice head.
Experienced dispute resolution lawyer Teppei Mogi leads the Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners practice that is known for cross-border litigation, international commercial disputes, product liability actions, tort claims, antimonopoly law-related disputes and contentious intellectual property matters.

Dispute resolution: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Specialising in complex, cross-border cases, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune advises Japanese and international corporate clients in a broad range of Japan-based litigation. The firm also provides an experienced international arbitration practice, notably matters related to capital and business alliances, joint ventures, M&A, construction projects, infrastructure projects and IP transactions; this expertise covers the rules of major arbitral institutions including the ICC, JCAA, AAA/ICDR, LCIA, SIAC, HKIAC and CIETAC. Former judge Hiroki Wakabayashi primarily represents Japanese and non-Japanese financial institutions, audit corporations and business corporations in transactional, professional responsibility and labour relations disputes. He co-leads the team with Aoi Inoue, who works across the spectrum of international arbitration and litigation, and Seoul-based David MacArthur, who joined in 2021 from Bae, Kim & Lee LLC to boost the firm’s international arbitration credentials.

Other key lawyers:

Kei Akagawa; Yuki Sakioka

Testimonials

‘The law firm has ample lawyer resources and flexibility in assignment, so that the firm can respond to clients’ requests in a timely manner. ’

‘The firm’s partner, Kei AKAGAWA, leads the dispute resolution team. His efficient team management greatly helps the team to meet clients’ expectations.’

‘Anderson Mori, as the name of the firm implies, is arguable Japan’s first truly international law firm. Over the years it has developed a strong reputation in representing large international corporates, as well as large Japanese companies. In regards to International Arbitration, the firm has made a concrete effort to further internationalize, hiring a strong bench of Japanese and non-Japanese practitioners’.

”A. Inoue- A great lawyer with a keen understanding of international dispute resolution’.

‘D. MacArthur- AMT made a keen strategic decision in hiring him away from Bae, Kim & Lee. David has top notch credentials, and adds further international flair to the firm. Solid experience in both commercial and treaty arbitration’.

‘Y. Sakioka- Though still rather junior, Yuki has a solid grasp on international disputes work’.

Key clients

Universal Music LLC

Suruga Bank, Ltd

Shimizu Corporation

Actoz Soft Co. Ltd.

Kolon Life Science, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented Universal Music LLC in a taxation lawsuit arising out of a corporate group restructuring.
  • Represented Suruga Bank, Ltd in a mass mediation filed by approximately 260 debtors with the Tokyo District Court.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Full-service firm Mori Hamada & MatsumotoComparative Guides promotional iconComparative Guides promotional icon advises on a diverse range of disputes from corporate, bankruptcy and employment matters to tax and commercial issues. A specialism for the practice is cross-border litigation and international dispute resolution proceedings, where it benefits from the firms network of offices in Japan and Asia. As well as being known for its market leading court experience, the team is also active in alternative dispute resolution and arbitration proceedings. Kana Manabe co-leads the department with Mugi Sekido, whose expertise covers international litigation and arbitration; as well as representing clients in high-profile cases; Sekido has written and lectured on the field extensively. Other key names in the area include litigation specialist Koichiro Iida and American lawyer Daniel Allen, who is an international arbitration expert with experience in intellectual property litigation and jury trials in the US courts.

Practice head(s):

Mugi Sekido; Kana Manabe

Other key lawyers:

Koichiro Iida; Daniel Allen

Testimonials

‘Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s legal advice is always timely, accurate and also business-oriented. Also, their advice is always practical from a real business standpoint. Some lawyers state unpractical black-letter law opinions without considering business elements at all but I have never met such attorneys from them.’

‘Mr. Mugi Sekido. With high level language skills, deep understanding and extensive experiences in handling US civil litigation for many Japanese clients, he conveys our messages to US attorneys quite accurately and “digest” their complicated legal languages into simplified terms for our easy understanding. He acts like a lubricant between Japan and the US in this case and we feel very lucky to have him who enables us to make quick and adequate decisions as a party. I admire his talent and believe no other attorney in Japan could perform the same as him in US litigation for Japanese clients.’

‘Our company retains Mori Hamada & Matsumoto for litigation proceedings in Germany, which involve complex technical issues. The team is excellent in clearly understanding technical inputs from our engineers, and also in understanding expectations of our company regarding the litigation and legal services there. We also highly appreciate the team’s capability to see the entire picture of the matter which includes the German court, a court-appointed expert, our local counsel and the opposing counsel, and to coordinate necessary works with our local counsel and other concerns’.

Key clients

SoftBank Corp. (mobile telecoms leader, formerly Vodafone)

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd

Hitachi, Ltd.

Toshiba Corporation

Daio Paper Corporation

BICCAMERA INC (Japan’s leading consumer electronics retailer)

Eksportfinans ASA (“Eksportfinans”) (Norwegian export finance institution)

Tokyo Boeki Materials, Ltd. (Japanese trading company)

Coincheck, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represented Daio Paper Corporation after one of the company’s biggest shareholders brought a lawsuit against the directors of Daio Paper, alleging that the convertible bonds issued by the Company in September 2015 were favourable ones, which is against Japanese laws and regulations.
  • Represented Toshiba in defence of claims brought by former or current shareholders in tort alleging “improper” disclosure of financial information by Toshiba in past years.
  • Represent Coincheck, Inc. in relation to claims from a group of investors stemming from the theft of approximately JPY58 billion in cryptocurrency NEM stolen by a hacker in January 2018.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Representing large domestic and foreign business entities, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu specialises in high-profile litigation before Japanese courts, as well as providing experience in arbitration and mediation proceedings. The disputes practice can draw from the full service firm’s expertise in commercial transaction, IP, antitrust, labour and employment, tax, product liability, construction, securities and consumer affairs. In international arbitration, the group has been active in matters related to dissolved strategic alliances, renewable energy projects, construction and distributorships. Koki Yanagisawa  leads the team and focuses on disputes in the areas of commercial, antitrust and employment law. Other key names in the field include arbitration specialist Yoshimi Ohara , who represents clients in international arbitration under the auspices of ICSID, SIAC, ICC, AAA/ICDR and JCAA rules; Hisaya Kimura, who handles cross-border and domestic dispute resolution; and Yoshimi Ohara , whose experience covers corporate, securities, and employment law proceedings, and tort lawsuits.

Practice head(s):

Koki Yanagisawa 

Testimonials

‘Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu NY LLP keeps providing very useful advices in various area of practice, with great collaboration with other firms. ’

‘Mr. Hironobu Tsukamoto has been supporting our litigation matters for years, collaborating with local lawyers. He is always responsive, and gives us best advices and proposals based upon deep understanding on our history, businesses and decision-making process.’

‘NO&T provide an excellent full service offering to clients and international law firms. Having worked with NO&T for a number of years on a cross-border matter (I work for a firm based in London) I was impressed by how hard-working the team were and the excellent quality of the work done by their team. They are easy to work with and very commercial in how they approach problems.’

‘At partner level, I have worked closely for a number of years with Koki Yanagisawa and Shinsuke Hiratsu. Both are excellent lawyers. They are hard-working, a pleasure to work with, commercial in the way that they approach problems and they have a great depth of experience of the Japanese legal system to draw on. They understand the complexities of cross-border work and their advice is always spot on!

‘I am constantly amazed by the prompt turnaround on every issue raised, on the quality and depth of the analysis provided, and the extent of the familiarity of the NO&T with the legal landscape not only in their jurisdictions of choice, but also many others around the world. ’

Key clients

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Central Japan Railway Company

Tokyo Electric Power Company

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation

Kajima Corporation

SECOM Co., Ltd.

Resona Bank, Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Central Japan Railway Company in its Linear Chuo Shinkansen litigation.
  • Advised Tokyo Electric Power Company in its shareholders derivative litigation.
  • Advised COOLKNOT JAPAN INC. and Mr. Masakazu Osada (the Representative Director of COOLKNOT JAPAN INC.) in their patent litigation against Twins Corporation.

Nishimura & Asahi

The Nishimura & Asahi dispute resolution team represents clients in product liability defence, consumer complaints and disputes related to contract, franchises, tax, insurance, labour law, IP and bankruptcy. The firm handles cross-border and domestic litigation, and as a full-service firm, it can offer multidisciplinary expertise that includes corporate, finance, labour and insolvency and restructuring. It is also a leading firm for international arbitration, with a practice that encompasses commercial and investment treaty arbitrations. Hiroyuki Tezuka has expertise in court proceedings, as well as being active in international arbitration. He leads the team that includes Akihiro Hironaka, who focuses on large disputes, particularly in the automotive and pharmaceutical sectors; Yutaro Kawabata, whose forte is matters arising out of the termination of contracts;  and the Germany and New York qualified Lars Markert, who is admitted as a foreign-registered lawyer in Japan and brings international arbitration experience. Former judge Makiko Takabe joined as an of counsel in October 2021.

Practice head(s):

Hiroyuki Tezuka

Key clients

Marubeni Corporation

Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd

Mochida Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Panasonic Corporation

Toshiba Corporation

Shionogi Co. & Ltd.

AIG General Insurance Co., Ltd.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Sharp Corporation

Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented a major Japanese company in the arbitration, involving claims for payment totalling 91 billion South African Rand (approx. USD 7.3 billion, at the time of filing of the request for arbitration) relating to a joint venture between Japanese companies to engage in power plant construction projects.
  • Represented a telecommunications company in an international arbitration before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
  • Defending a German automotive supplier against a Japanese automotive supplier in a product liability action before the Yokohama District Court.

City-Yuwa Partners

Traditionally known for real estate and construction disputes, City-Yuwa Partners also provides expertise in banking and finance, bankruptcy, commercial, corporate and class action litigation. The firm adds to this an experienced international arbitration and litigation practice; international commercial arbitration specialist Yoko Maeda is a key name in this area. Shigeaki Ito leads the large 34 partner team and focuses on real estate and construction related disputes, with a long track record representing real estate companies in Japan.

Practice head(s):

Shigeaki Ito

Other key lawyers:

Yoko Maeda

Testimonials

‘The international arbitration team is headed by Yoko Maeda, who is extremely knowledgeable and responsive. They are a small but excellent team that understands the client’s needs and develops strategies to achieve them.’

‘Yoko Maeda is outstanding. Originally US trained, she is truly bicultural. She is smart and provides excellent legal analysis. She is also a very persuasive advocate in front of a tribunal.’

‘A full-service firm with reasonable and flexible fee arrangement. While it is not a first tire firm, it has a professional dispute resolution team capable for both domestic and cross-border disputes.’

‘Yoko Maeda is highly skilled and have deep sense of commercial. She is deeply involved in the cases and understood her clients.’

‘The City-Yuwa team are great to work with. They very much appear to work together seamlessly with the single intention of progressing your case with minimal fuss and great attention to detail. They really are a first class outfit.’

‘I have personally been working with Yoko Maeda over the course of the last few years. I have found her to be extremely easy to work with. Not only is she personable and smart but she will work late and hard and at short notice to deliver a first class work product. She is first class in terms of her responsiveness, attention to detail and willingness to work hard to achieve the desired results and outcomes.’

Key clients

Asahi Beer

Bureau Veritas Japan Co., Ltd.

Canon, Inc.

Cardinal Japan K.K.

Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Cook Medical Inc.

Contrack Watts Inc.

Energy Products Co., Ltd.

FTI Consulting

GS Yuasa International Ltd.

Japan Tobacco Inc.

KDDI Corporation

Maetel (Maessa Telecomunicaciones Ingenieria Instalaciones y Servicios S.A.)

Midea Group

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation

Sanki Engineering

SBI Securities Co., Ltd.

SEKIWA Real Estate, Ltd. Sekisui House Real Estate Tokyo,Ltd.

Sojitz Aerospace Corporation

Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd

Taiheiyo Cement Corporation

Takizawa Ham Inc.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)

Work highlights

  • Advised Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in a claim for damages from an electric power company in courts throughout Japan by residents who were forced to evacuate from their places of residence due to the Fukushima nuclear power station accident that occurred on March 11, 2011.
  • Representing SBI Securities Co., Ltd. (SBI) in a case filed by over 200 shareholders of FOI, a company which committed financial window-dressing and misstatements and went bankrupt.
  • Advised FTI Consulting in a dispute over alleged fraud over JPY20billion in relation to investment by J Trust Asia Pte, Ltd to Global Lease PCL which is a subsidiary of Showa Holdings.

TMI Associates

The broad disputes practice of TMI AssociatesComparative Guides promotional icon includes expertise in employment, construction and public law matters, with a particular forte in tech related cases. The firm combines this with significant strength in the growing international arbitration space, key names being Yoshimitsu Aoyama, who joined as advisor in 2020 and is president of the Japan International Dispute Resolution Center (JIDRC), and Tomoki Yanagisawa, who is Deputy Secretary General of the same centre. Pre-litigation work is another specialism for the team led by Ryosuke Ito, who can call on a deep bench of experts including Makoto Okada and Keishiro Tashiro.

Practice head(s):

Ryosuke Ito

Key clients

Tsuburaya Production Co., Ltd.

Ushijima & Partners

Experienced in a range of international litigation and arbitration, Ushijima & Partners has particular strengths in corporate disputes, corporate control issues, real estate, securities and software development litigation. Another area of increasing activity is on line infringement cases, in which Hiroyasu Kageshima  is the key name. Osamu Inoue  is known for real estate and construction-related cases and transactions, including representing foreign companies; he co-leads the team with Shin Ushijima , who focuses on litigation and arbitration arising from international transactions, M&A, system development, anti-monopoly, labour and tax law.

Practice head(s):

Shin Ushijima ; Osamu Inoue

Testimonials

‘They are good at and has exceptional passion for litigation matters in Japan’.

‘Ushijima is more interested in litigation matters in Japan than bigger law firms such as Big 4, and since they are smaller than them, they can take even small but interesting legal cases. They can work for domestic and foreign clients in Japanese litigations’.

‘We worked with Ushijima very often on complicated cases where there are not clear evidence to support to either of plaintiff or defense side. If the cases are complicated, and delicate handling are very important, Ushijima is clearly the best option to the client.’

‘Since Ushijima is often retained for complicated disputes, they tend to be very experianced in litigation arguments. I have worked with the following members for difficult litigations Osamu Inoue, Hiroshi Watanabe, Rikisuke Yamanaka, Hiroyasu Kageshima and Hiroyuki Yamauchi.’

Key clients

Oasis Management Company Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Oasis Management Company Ltd. about potential legal proceedings it could pursue regarding an unfair M&A (share exchange).

Abe, Ikubo & Katayama

IP infringement litigation specialist Abe, Ikubo & Katayama combines strengths in IP procurements and disputes, with experience in a range of technical fields, including chemical, biotech, life science, software, telecommunication, electronics and mechanicals. Yasuhiko Ikubo co-leads the team with patent attorney and head of the IP prosecution division Hiroshi Kobayashi and Eiji Katayama, who is experienced in IP law and technology issues, acting in arbitrations or mediations.

Key clients

Apple

Novartis

Eli Lilly

Johnson & Johnson

Sharp

Dow Chemical

Suntory

Takeda

Astellas

Komatsu

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & SakaiComparative Guides promotional iconComparative Guides promotional icon’s litigation practice group combines expertise in lawsuits, arbitration and dispute resolution, with international experience across a range of jurisdictions. The firm is known for handling disputes related to business, finance and corporate law, as well as employment, IP and anti-trust. Another area of increasing activity is litigation and arbitration in the innovative areas of fintech, IoT/AI and renewable energy. The deep bench of expertise is co-led by Toyoki Emoto , Hiroki Mori , Teruhisa Toyama , Bonnie Dixon, Hisashi Miyatsuka , Kumpei Ohashi , Norio Suzuki , Takafumi Ochiai , Yusuke Miura  and Kohei Murakawa .

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Known for its court skills, notably witness examination, Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo represents international clients in a range of litigation in Japan. Kazuki Okada is notable in dispute resolution and his expertise includes issues related to complex financial instruments, the right to privacy, defamation and the right to be forgotten, and representing global firms seeking to recover damages from fraud. A key specialism for the practice is employment disputes, where Akiko Yamakawa is the go-to expert. The firm also assists with internal and regulatory investigations related to issues such as employee misconduct, fraud and regulatory breaches.

Practice head(s):

Kazuki Okada; Akiko Yamakawa

Testimonials

‘They fully understand the legal and practical realities particularly at the multinational company like us and can offer practical advice. Many law firms always say termination is difficult in Japan or advise from the book but Vanguard is different. Even under the employee friendly law in Japan, they always provide us with proactive advice on how to deal with them so that we could move on.’

‘Akiko Yamakawa is our main attorney who is fully bilingual and also provides practical advice to our overseas legal and people team. Her advice and explanations are always clear, concise, and logical. She understands the nature of the issues and can offer practical commercial advice. There is always “answers” whenever we go to Akiko sensei’.

ZeLo (Foreign Law Joint Enterprise)

ZeLo, a Foreign Law Joint Enterprise specialises in disputes arising from the growing fintech area, including crowdfunding, asset management and lending issues. The firm has particular expertise in blockchain and crypto asset matters. A distinguishing factor of the practice is its use of innovative tools to supplement its service, including AI contract review technology to streamline workflows. Masataka Ogasawara leads the team and assists Japanese start-ups and mid-sized companies in a range of contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Masataka Ogasawara

Testimonials

‘The team members of ZeLo are relatively young but are energetic to focus on our lawsuit. ZeLo can respond us quickly in a very timely manner even in a tight time frame. Our explanation was written down as part of litigation documents by ZeLo team efficiently and ZeLo established a well-organized logic utilizing certain exemption provision of corporate laws and it led us to the satisfactory settlement’.

‘Masataka Ogasawara is great and worked very hard for us. He understands well about our business and our point in disputed with the counterparty. He himself is very efficient and clever and he also could organize the well-trained team for us. Always he provided us a best product and we can feel that he respects our business and position.’