Investment funds: International firms and joint ventures in Japan

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP is widely acknowledged for its ‘deep knowledge of the Japan market‘ given that it is a well established and substantial team and the reputation of the pre-eminent Christopher Wells. Co-head Tomoko Fuminaga, who is a Bengoshi partner also offers a wealth of experience in the structuring and registration of investment funds in Japan as well as the operation of financial institutions and assisting clients in negotiations with regulators. The team acts for many of the largest Japanese funds in addition to well-known global investors including US and UK asset managers and can provide guidance to clients on complex or novel structures. Of counsel Kyoko Nagano, who is admitted in Japan and New York, has broad experience including assisting non-Japanese clients with the structuring of real estate investments in Japan, while foreign registered lawyer Carol Tsuchida advises institutional and sovereign wealth investors from various jurisdictions seeking to invest into cross-border infrastructure, real estate, hedge and private equity funds.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Wells; Tomoko Fuminaga

Other key lawyers:

Kyoko Nagano; Carol Tsuchida; Tadao Horibe


‘They have a deep knowledge of the Japan market’.

‘Chris Wells – knows how to navigate the Japan market and able to speak to business’.

‘Kyoko Nagano gets the job done’.

‘Carol Tsuchida- responsive and has a deep knowledge of the Japan market’.



Linklaters‘ team is highly rated for its breath of expertise; from fund formations and fund raisings to transactions within the domestic market and off-shore on behalf of international fund managers and investors and well-known Japanese investors/institutional investors. Eriko Sakata is widely respected for her adept handling of the gamut of funds work and for building a well-regarded team. A team of Japanese and international lawyers also provides regulatory expertise combined with access to the firm’s global network. Senior associate Sayako Shiraki has built extensive experience in the structuring and execution of off-shore investment fund transactions for a range of Japanese investors and trust banks.

Practice head(s):

Eriko Sakata

Other key lawyers:

Sayako Shiraki


‘Eriko Sakata and her team are committed to delivering the outcome in a timely manner, are very transparent in communication within the team and with the client, and are efficient. They make themselves available when needed. Having a female partner managing the team is very inspirational.’     

‘The Linklaters investment funds team stands out because of their ability to hand a mix of fund formation, as well as fund-related transactional mandates.’

‘By being able to understand not only the formation and fundraising process, but the transactions that fund managers execute over the life of the fund gives the team a unique set of capabilities, that other law firms are not able to as readily deploy.’

Key clients


Deutsche Bank

Digital Colony Partners

Institutional Capital Network Inc. (iCapital)

Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

Japan Post Bank Co., Ltd.

JBIC IG Partners

KKR Capital Markets Japan Ltd.

Marubeni Corporation

Mitsubishi Corporation

Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation

MM Capital Partners Co., Ltd.

MUFG Bank, Ltd.

SoftBank Group Corp.

Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management No

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Ardian as a fund manager (together with Hy24) on the establishment of one billion Euro Clean H2 Infra Fund and relevant investor negotiations and fund registrations in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Advising a leading Japanese bank on the establishment of a platform to invest in an overseas forestry fund.

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling‘s asset management and fund formation team acts largely for major Japanese funds investing off shore and private fund investments (including private equity funds, hedge, real estate and funds of funds). Team head Etienne Gelencsér offers considerable expertise in advising private equity firms and Japanese financial institutions in the establishment of Japan focused offshore funds together with related portfolio acquisitions. Clients are also offered expertise in regulatory regimes and new fund product design.

Practice head(s):

Etienne Gelencsér

Other key lawyers:

Naomi King


‘Etienne Gelencser and his funds team know the investment funds space in Japan very well and have great experience.’

‘Etienne Gelencser is very knowledgeable and great to work with.’

Key clients

DBJ Asset Management Co Ltd

Development Bank of Japan Inc

Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF)

Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP‘s funds lead, David Azcue, has a considerable history in advising on private fund formations and fund raisings in Japan and was one of the pioneers in relation to structuring Japan-focused buyout funds. He is also advising on a “GK-TK” transaction whereby Japanese and non-Japanese investors can invest together in Japanese real estate investments. Senior associate Lily Rasel is a key member of the Tokyo team, advising private equity, venture capital and real estate fund sponsors on structuring and regulatory matters. The team works closely with seasoned colleagues in Hong Kong in respect of broader Asia-focused mandates.

Practice head(s):

David Azcue

Other key lawyers:

Lily Rasel

Key clients

Advantage Partners

Affinity Equity Partners


Aspirant Group


Brummer & Partners

CapSquare Asia Partners


CLSA Capital


Delos Capital

Diamond Realty Management




Japan Growth Investment Alliance (J-GIA)

Japan Post Investment Corporation (JPIC)



Kyoto Pacific Capital

Morgan Stanley

Nippon Investment Company


Seven Seas Advisors

Silver Lake

SL Capital

Vivo Capital

Work highlights

  • Advised J-STAR Co., Ltd. in connection with the formation and fundraising of J-STAR No.5 Series Funds, which raises ¥75 billion.
  • Advised T Capital Partners Co., Ltd. in connection with the formation of TCAP VI Series Funds, which raised ¥81 billion.
  • Advised Unison Capital, Inc. in connection with the Unison V Series Funds, together with UC Healthcare Provider Co-Investment, LPS, with aggregate capital commitments of ¥96.4 billion.

Greenberg Traurig Tokyo Law Offices

Greenberg Traurig Tokyo Law Offices has a track record handling private equity and hedge funds transactions and is well known for its expertise in REITs. Led by Koichiro “Ko” Ohashi, the practice advises clients on their funds investments into Japan; launching and registering funds with the Financial Services Agency and advising Japanese clients on off-shore investments. Ohashi also advises Japanese trust banks and pension funds on their investments into foreign funds. Makoto Koinuma and associate Mari Arakaw are key team members – the latter is building expertise focused on regulatory filings.

Practice head(s):

Koichiro “Ko” Ohashi

Other key lawyers:

Makoto Koinuma; Mari Arakaw


‘Even thought this team is quite mature and well experienced, they also have a passion to grow their business and their team. They have the passion and energy of a much younger group of people.’

‘Ohashi  Koichiro is unusually quick and resourceful in handling requests for quotations, delivering advice, and delivering written materials.’

Withers Japan, Zeirishi Houjin

The Withers Japan, Zeirishi Houjin group is considered ‘quick, commercial, and very experienced despite the young age of the team’ and the practice heads, Koji Yamamoto and Yoshiyuki Omori are highly rated by their clients. The group acts as local counsel to both domestic and international investment managers and financial institutions on open- and closed-ended funds together with regulatory and tax expertise. Its skills cover fund formation, offerings and financial instruments dealer registrations.

Practice head(s):

Koji Yamamoto; Yoshiyuki Omori

Other key lawyers:

Wataru Sasaki; Hiroki Hosoda


‘Yoshihiro Omori and Hirokazu Miyamoto are aware of various practical matters, from their experience in the asset management business. Yoshihiro is responsive, practical and efficient in his service.’

‘The funds team at Withers is quick, commercial, and very experienced despite the young age of the team. A top-rate team doing top-rate work.’

‘Koji Yamamoto is incredibly knowledgeable about the funds industry and also very commercial, which allows him to provide invaluable strategic advice in addition to technical legal advice.’

‘Yoshiyuki Omori knows fund regulations and practice inside out and guides clients with a steady hand.’

‘The Withers team is unique in that it brings a Japanese regulatory capability with an deep understanding of the needs and wants of international institutional investors and managers. Couple this with an in house tax capability and the Withers team have an offering to the asset management industry that is unique in its completeness.’

‘Koji Yamamoto stands out as a Japanese lawyer with outstanding international law firm experience and pedigree, understanding of the global industry, coupled with Japan law technical expertise. This allows him to bring to bear a combination extensive experience of international best practices and innovations, deep Japanese regulatory knowledge, with both international and domestic market.’ 

Key clients

Monex Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead and Japan counsel for Advised Monex Inc. on the establishment of a fund in the Cayman Islands and advised on related Japan regulatory issues. The Monex fund had a successful initial closing in March 2021.