Dispute resolution: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune is known for large and complex cross-border cases. The firm is experienced acting for international corporate clients involved in multi-jurisdictional and Japan-based litigation proceedings. Hiroki Wakabayashi represents domestic and international financial institutions, auditors, and corporations in a range of transactional, professional responsibility, and labour-relation disputes. He co-leads the practice with Yoshimasa Furuta, who has expertise in international litigation, commercial arbitration, private mediation and business dispute resolution. Also notable in the team is Aoi Inoue, who specialises in international arbitration and litigation.

Practice head(s):

Hiroki Wakabayashi; Yoshimasa Furuta

Other key lawyers:

Aoi Inoue


‘A strong and knowledgeable arbitration practice’

‘Good bilingual lawyers’

‘Yoshimasa Furata and Aoi Inoue are very knowledgeable, well known and energetic in the arbitration community’


Work highlights

  • Representing Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. in a request for arbitration against its former US distributor under the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association.
  • Acted for Google in matters related to several requests filed against the client seeking an order of provisional disposition to delete the search results concerning criminal records which are displayed as the search results for the claimant’s name etc. on the grounds of his privacy and other personal rights, especially referring “Right to be Forgotten” which has been discussed in EU.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto represents Japanese clients overseas and foreign clients in Japan, in cross-border litigation and international dispute resolution proceedings. The firm is experienced in domestic litigation as well as local and international arbitration. The disputes practice benefits from expertise in related areas, including corporate, bankruptcy, employment, and tax. The team is co-led by Kana Manabe, who handles a range of domestic and international disputes, and Mugi Sekido, who is known for international litigation and arbitration. Also notable is Daniel Allen, who is a registered US attorney and an international arbitration specialist, with particular experience in IP litigation and jury trials in the US courts.

Practice head(s):

Mugi Sekido; Kana Manabe

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Allen

Key clients

Eksportfinans ASA (“Eksportfinans”)

Tokyo Boeki Materials, Ltd.


SoftBank Corp.

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

Hitachi, Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Represented Hitachi, Ltd in the arbitration proceeding initiated by POSCO ICT Company Ltd against Hitachi under the SIAC rules.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Representing domestic and international businesses, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu has notable experience in Japanese courts as well as in arbitration and mediation proceedings. The practice acts in disputes arising in multiple jurisdictions and draws from multidisciplinary expertise across the firm, including commercial transaction, IP, antitrust, employment, and construction. Norimitsu Arai leads the team and has broad experience acting for domestic and foreign clients in local court. Also notable are Hisaya Kimura, who specialises in cross-border and domestic dispute resolution, and Yoshimi Ohara, who represents clients in international arbitrations under ICSID, SIAC, ICC, AAA/ICDR and JCAA rules.

Practice head(s):

Norimitsu Arai

Other key lawyers:

Hisaya Kimura; Yoshimi Ohara


‘Concise team, reasonable fees and can handle requests fast and quickly’

‘Very sophisticated lawyers, excellent judgment, extraordinary attention to detail and knowledge of US legal system’

‘The ability of total coordination is the most important’

‘Hisaya Kimura is an excellent practitioner. He is definitely a stand-out partner with excellent technical skills’

‘Mr. Yanagisawa can quickly see potential risks involving each selection of wordings’

‘Mr. Hirai is flexible but deep detail oriented’

Key clients

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Central Japan Railway Company

Tokyo Electric Power Company

Merrill Lynch International, Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., Ltd.

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation

Kajima Corporation

SECOM Co., Ltd.

Resona Bank, Limited

IBM Corporation

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • As attorneys for Nissan, advised the company from the early stages of the investigation related to MITSUBISHI MOTORS CORPORATION announcing that the company had manipulated its fuel efficiency data for approximately 25 years.  Nissan Motor Co., Ltd which had sold cars developed by Mitsubishi based on an OEM agreement between Mitsubishi, was therefore charged by the Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan, together with Mitsubishi, in violation of the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations.
  • Represented JR Central, which is constructing the Linear Chuo Shinkansen, which will be a 438km Shinkansen connecting Tokyo and Osaka. The case is an administrative lawsuit brought by a large number of people against the Japanese government to seek the revocation of the Approval Disposition.
  • Acted for Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, The Master Trust Bank of Japan, Ltd., Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd., Trust & Custody Services Bank, Ltd., The Nomura Trust and Banking Co., Ltd. and State Street Trust and Banking Co., Ltd, in the case of Olympus Corporation, which has filed false financial reports from 2000 through 2011, in which it concealed more than JPY 100 billion of investment losses.  In 2011, such concealment was known to public and the price of the Olympus share drastically declined.  The clients, as the trustees of many funds, purchased Olympus shares after it started to file false financial reports, and incurred losses.
  • Acted for Tokyo Electric Power Company, following the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant incident caused by a tsunami triggered by the earthquake in March 2011, some of the shareholders of TEPCO filed a derivative lawsuit against the directors and ex-directors of the company, claiming a compensation for damage in the amount of approximately JPY9tn allegedly caused by the directors’ failure to foresee the disastrous tsunami and take appropriate measures to prevent the incident.

Nishimura & Asahi

Specialising in arbitration, Nishimura & Asahi is increasingly active in international matters. The practice is led by Hiroyuki Tezuka, who has expertise in both court proceedings and international arbitration. Notable in his team is Yutaro Kawabata, who focuses on disputes arising out of the termination of contracts, particularly for clients in the automotive, pharma and electronic devices sectors. Further strengthening the team is the 2018 arrival of international arbitration expert Lars Markert from German firm Gleiss Lutz; Markert is qualified in Germany and New York, and admitted as a foreign registered lawyer in Japan.

Practice head(s):

Hiroyuki Tezuka

Other key lawyers:

Lars Markert; Yutaro Kawabata

Key clients

Marubeni Corporation

Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd

Mochida Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Sojitz Corporation

Toshiba Corporation

Tokai Rika Co., Ltd.

AIG General Insurance Company, Ltd.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Asahi Kasei Corporation

Work highlights

  • Represented a major Japanese manufacturer, together with a foreign law firm, in a contract dispute against a foreign company involving the laws of multiple jurisdictions.
  • Representing a Japanese bank in a US antitrust class action filed by counterparties to transactions in foreign financial markets.
  • Representing a foreign manufacturer in a large-scale product liability litigation filed by a large number of plaintiffs in multiple Japanese courts.
  • Defending a major Japanese real estate company in a Japanese consumer class-action litigation proceeding.
  • Represent a Japanese pharmaceutical company in a large-scale tax dispute at the Tokyo District Court concerning a cross-border reorganisation.

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai has a range of experience in the disputes arena, including cross-border arbitration and dispute resolution, securities litigation, financial services disputes, criminal defense and civil litigation. The practice has particular expertise in cross-border disputes related to financial products. The names to note include Bonnie Dixon, Toyoki Emoto, Hiroki Mori, Hisashi Miyatsuka, Kunihiro Sumida, Kumpei Ohashi, Norio Suzuki, Takafumi Ochiai, Yusuke Miura, Teruhisa Toyama and Kohei Murakawa.

Practice head(s):

Bonnie L. Dixon; Toyoki Emoto; Hiroki Mori; Hisashi Miyatsuka; Kunihiro Sumida; Kumpei Ohashi; Norio Suzuki; Takafumi Ochiai; Yusuke Miura; Teruhisa Toyama; Kohei Murakawa

Work highlights

  • Representing global institutional investors as plaintiffs in a major lawsuit claiming compensation for damages due to misstatements in the annual reports by Toshiba Corporation.

City-Yuwa Partners

City-Yuwa Partners acts in a broad range of other disputes, including international arbitration and litigation, bankruptcy litigation, large-scale class actions, and patent litigation. Shigeaki Ito leads the practice and specialises in real estate and construction-related disputes. Also of note is Yoko Maeda, who acts in international and domestic dispute resolution, notably international commercial arbitration. The team was strengthened in 2018 by the arrival of former assistant Judge Nobuyuki Sakuraba, who joined from Nishimura & Asahi.

Practice head(s):

Shigeaki Ito

Other key lawyers:

Yoko Maeda; Nobuyuki Sakuraba


‘Due to a flexible view on work/life balance, City Yuwa has been successful in gathering lateral talent from most of Japan’s other top law firms. City Yuwa attorneys are smart, talented, hard-working, and more often than not, fun to be around. They are flexible thinkers, and can often offer big-4 level work at a more-so reasonable price.’

‘Masaaki Sawano – A leader of the Japanese bar. Very international minded, and a top-notch attorney.’

‘Yoko Maeda- An absolute pleasure to work with. Smart, charming and engaging. She asks the right questions, and is good at both high-level strategy and key tactical decision in international disputes.’

Key clients

Asahi Beer

Canon Inc.

Cardinal Health

Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd

Cook Medical Inc.

FTI consulting

GS Yuasa International Ltd.

Japan Tobacco Inc.

KDDI Corporation

Midea Group

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation

TMI Associates

Cross-border specialists TMI Associates provides clients with sector expertise, notably in antitrust and employment disputes. The firm is also unique in having three retired Supreme Court justices, Tokuji Izumi, Isao Imai and Chiharu Saiguchi, as well as four retired High Court judges, as attorneys. Ryosuke Ito leads a team that includes Mitsue Aizawa, whose areas of expertise are commercial litigation and unfair competition, and Keishiro Tashiro, who focuses on commercial litigation and pre-litigation counselling.

Practice head(s):

Ryosuke Ito

Work highlights

  • Acted for Tsuburaya Production Co., Ltd. in a case that concerns very famous global disputes (Japan, Thailand, China and the US) with regards to the rights to utilize famous film works, Ultraman. The firm’s preliminary role is to formulate the entire global strategy for the litigation and to manage the disputes in each country.
  • Represented Yahoo Japan Corporation in a lawsuits seeking deletion of representation of search results.

Ushijima & Partners

Experienced in acting for auditors and individuals, Ushijima & Partners also has expertise in domestic disputes arising from construction, soil contamination and systems development. In addition, the firm is increasingly active in international matters, particularly in relation to inheritance disputes and business litigation. Corporate control specialist Shin Ushijima is known for disputes inside and outside of Japan, in particular, litigation and arbitration across international transactions, M&A, anti-monopoly, labour, and tax. He co-leads the team with Osamu Inoue, who is well known for real estate and construction-related cases and transactions, notably representing foreign companies.

Practice head(s):

Shin Ushijima; Osamu Inoue


‘The firm’s attorneys have talent to very swiftly identify the core and to suggest practicable solutions’

‘The attorneys are strong in court, very well organized and focused’

‘They keep each single detail under control and can play out nuances in clients favor’

‘Ushijima & Partners makes extensive use of its network ranging from legal scholars, economists and other experts relating to issues of dispute’

‘They generate highly sophisticated work products for submission to the court’

‘Rikisuke Yamanaka is an excellent litigator with deep analytical sense and highly convincing tactical skills. He is able to turn out a lost case to success’

‘Associate Shinobu Yanagita is a great litigation manager and very smart in suggesting innovative paths to prove client’s cases’

Key clients

Urban Renaissance Agency

Work highlights

  • Represented the Urban Renaissance Agency as one of the eight defendants in a suit filed by the owner of the Muza Kawasaki symphony hall and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra to recover over JPY2bn in damages following the destruction of the symphony hall’s ceiling during the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

Innoventier LPC

Principally known for acting in patent litigation and IP cases, Innoventier LPC also handles a range of commercial disputes, including employment, insolvency, financing, real estate, family and white-collar crime. In addition, the firm represents and advises the government and municipalities. Ayumu Iijima is an attorney licensed in Japan and New York and represents companies from various industries, universities, as well as the government of Japan, in IP matters. He co-leads the practice with Tomomi Fujita, who focuses on IP-related disputes and transactions. Also notable in their team are Shizu Machino, who is licensed in Japan and New York and has experience in litigation and dispute resolution covering IP infringement, derivative action, real estate, and international arbitratiom, as well as technology expert Gai Matsushita, who is also licensed in Japan and New York. Both were promoted to partner in 2019.

Practice head(s):

Ayumu Iijima; Tomomi Fujita

Other key lawyers:

Shizu Machino; Gai Matsushita


‘The team at Innoventier delivers excellent service’

‘They combine the highest quality and technical ability of a Big 4 Japanese Firm, with the personal attention and nimbleness of a boutique firm’

‘Innoventier is the easiest to instruct and most experienced in dealing with international clients’

‘In Innoventier, your case is treated like their own dispute’

‘Gai Matsushita is uniquely placed for international disputes, as he is a native English speaker, while being educated at the Univerity of Tokyo and NYU, and Tokyo Institute of Technology’

‘Gai Matsushita combines excellent technical knowledge with sound practical advice.  He understands Japanese business norms and dispute resolution for Japanese companies very well’

Work highlights

  • Represented the government of Japan (defendant) in an administrative litigation before the Osaka District Court.
  • Successfully defended the government of Japan (defendant) in an administrative litigation before the Osaka District Court.
  • Successfully represented a Japanese spa company (claimant) against a Singaporean spa company (respondent) in SIAC arbitration before sole arbitrator.

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo focuses on providing Japanese litigation and investigation services to global companies. The firm represents international clients in a range of litigations in Japan, including acting for financial institutions in disputes involving highly complex financial instruments, as well as investigations and crisis management. The team is co-led by Kazuki Okada, who has particular experience representing multinational clients in Japan; and Akiko Yamakawa, who specialises in litigation and arbitration proceedings for global clients and serves as an arbitrator in JCAA arbitrations conducted in English.

Practice head(s):

Akiko Yamakawa; Kazuki Okada


‘Yamakawa sensei is great to work with’

‘Yamakawa sensei is user-friendly and service oriented’

‘Yamakawa sensei is great as she has language capability on top of being an excellent UK/Japanese lawyer’

‘Kazuki Okada and Akiko Yamakawa’s Japanese dispute practice is highly regarded especially among in-house counsel at global organizations who are uneasy about Japanese judicial practice and who need excellent English communications skills for their internal reporting and decision making’