Labour and employment: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

The broad labour and employment practice of Anderson Mori & Tomotsune covers a range of contentious and non-contentious issues. The firm has particular expertise in litigation arising from claims of wrongful discharges and related compensation matters, while on the non-contentious side strengths include labour union issues, employment reduction and termination matters. It also handles sexual harassment/power harassment, employee mental illnesses and expatriate employee matters. In addition to this advice, the practice also provides on-site training sessions for clients, aimed at familiarizing management and supervisors with Japanese labour law. Kazutoshi Kakuyama specialises in labour and employment law and general corporate matters; Hideki Thurgood Kanoh focuses on assisting employers; and Yukiko Imazu acts on behalf of Japanese and non-Japanese companies in labour and employment issues.

Testimonials

‘Junichi Ueda’s precise and effective advice is priceless’.

‘This firm has Mr. Ueda – that is the main reason why I highly evaluated this firm because of my years of experience working with him and his personality, and humanity.

‘They can deal with international matters with English proficiency.’

Key clients

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (“NML”)

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Mori Hamada & MatsumotoComparative Guides promotional icon combines advisory, litigation and M&A specialist to advise across the spectrum of employment law matters. The firm’s comprehensive experience includes compliance with employment-related legislation, management of transitions and the migration of staff, terminations and benefits, employment policies, and trade union disputes and collective agreements. The employment litigation team covers all levels of the Japanese court system, as well as class actions and matters relating to the Labour Contract Act. Chisako Takaya focuses on labour and employment, litigation, cross border transactions, M&A and general corporate matters. He co-leads the practice with Taichi Arai , who handles disputes and international labour issues; and Yoshikazu Abe, whose forte is corporate human resources and labour matters. Another key name in the area is Fumiko Hama, who advises on employee dismissals, overtime allowances, work-environment harassment issues, and labour union issues.

Other key lawyers:

Fumiko Hama; Rina Shimada

Testimonials

‘Mori Hamada & Matsumoto is one of the largest and strongest law firm that has many overseas branch in the world. My company is middle sized company, however they always treat us as their biggest client. Their sincere approach, which is “clients first” is always there and I can feel that they value their relationship with clients. Always listen and understand the situation for my diverse working environment.’

‘My corporate lawyer is Ms. Chisako Takaya, Ms. Rina Shimada is assisting Ms. Takaya regarding our corporate matters. Their strengths are absolute professionalism, through knowledge of labor law, and caring the customers. Also, their response is unbelievably quick, which is critical for the corporate operation.’

Key clients

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Work highlights

  • Advised Japan Post Co., Ltd. The plaintiffs, all of them are fixed-term hourly-paid employees and members of Japan Posit Industry Labour Union, allege that they should be entitled to receive several allowances which are paid for the employees without fixed-term because such differences are unreasonable.
  • Team members attend the working group that has been convened by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) for the purposes of exploring Japan’s options for implementing new regulations in this area.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Advising international business entities and Japanese affiliates, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu’s team handles the spread of employment advice, including employee contracts and work rules, employment-related regulatory compliance, contracts for executives and executive compensation and redundancy procedures. The firm also bring expertise in large-scale commercial litigation and corporate law matters to its labour practice. A key name in the area is Norimitsu Arai, whose specialisms cover union-related matters, litigation matters and transactional employment matters. Also active in the field is Satoshi Hosokawa, who focuses on disputes, harassment investigations, the employment aspects of restructuring of corporate entities and employment related M&A.

Practice head(s):

Hisaya Kimura

Testimonials

‘We retained this firm’s partner Mr. Hironobu Tsukamoto for advice in terminating the employment of CEO of our U.S. affiliate. He was always, together with an associate Ms. Natsuko Kitagawa, highly responsive and always gave us very useful, practical advice based on his extensive experience in the field of Employment Disputes and Employment Law Advice.’

‘Nagashima Ohno & Tsukanematsu (NO&T) supported us in the restructuring project of US distributor. Their response was always quick, timely and well considered.’

‘I highly recommend Japanese companies to retain NO&T (especially, Mr. Hironobu Tsukamoto) when they deal with the US project. NO&T is very responsive and their advice is excellent.’

‘Great responsiveness. Excellent with US clients’

‘Completely reliable. Very easy to work with. My go to people for all Japanese legal queries’

Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi brings expertise in M&A, organizational restructuring and bankruptcy to its labour and employment practice, combining this with experience advising enterprises on their daily personnel and labour issues and the structuring of compliance systems. Employment disputes is a core strength for the firm, that also specialises in the crossover between technology and employment law, notably issues relating to HR data, HR-tech and AI. Yuri Sugano advises foreign and domestic clients on labour and employment matters, including advising on the Japanese government’s work-style reform programme. She co-leads the team with Jiro Abe, who handles restructuring, post-merger integration, union negotiations, negotiations between labour offices and labour disputes.

Practice head(s):

Yuri Sugano; Jiro Abe

Key clients

Yamanishi Co., Ltd.

Pepper Food Service Co., Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Yamanishi, one of the top shipbuilding companies in Tohoku, on its reorganisation.
  • Advised Pepper Food, a Japanese company operating restaurant chains and franchises throughout Japan and overseas, on its financial restructuring, including efforts to reduce its labour costs.

TMI Associates

TMI AssociatesComparative Guides promotional icon’ cross-border labour and employment practice provides expertise in financial, business, commercial, technology, entertainment and governmental matters. Particular strengths include employee contracts, termination of employment, employment related M&A and investigations into harassment and other misconduct. The firm also has experience in a range of employment litigation and disputes, notably labour union issues. Mie Fujimoto has experience in advising foreign clients across a wide variety of industries and co-leads the team with Motoi Fujii, who focuses on lawsuits and labour tribunals. Also active in the area are Seiji Kurihara, whose sector expertise covers manufacturing, communications, finance and entertainment; and Rie Taiko, who provides strategic counselling on labour and employment matters.

Practice head(s):

Mie Fujimoto; Motoi Fujii

Other key lawyers:

Seiji Kurihara

City-Yuwa Partners

Representing domestic and international clients across a range of industry sectors, City-Yuwa Partners provides daily advice on labour and employment issues, as well as acting in disputes. The firm primarily represents employers, handling employment contracts and work rules. A stand-out feature of the team’s service is its use of AI to assist in translation work, and more recently its handling of COVID-19 related questions in an English and Japanese newsletter. Noriko Higashizawa  handles labour and corporate matters and co-leads the practice with Akira Nagasaki, who is active in litigation. Also notable is associate Kosuke Hasegawa, who focuses on employment advice to global clients.

Other key lawyers:

Kosuke Hasegawa

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo provides a full service to a global client base covering large redundancies, sexual and power harassment matters, complex non-compete cases and overtime issues. Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the firm has been active advising on furloughs, government subsidies, remote working and redundancies related to the crisis, as well as offering assistance with maintaining health and safety within the workplace. The growing team is co-led by experienced employment specialist Akiko Yamakawa and disputes expert Kazuki Okada.

Practice head(s):

Akiko Yamakawa; Kazuki Okada

Testimonials

‘The VLT team is always considering what we can try to do, sharing potential risks and/or their plenty of experience. Of course everything does not always go well, but they always have “plan B” to solve the issues.’

‘I have been consulting with Mr. Kazuki Okada and Ms. Akiko Yamakawa about labour issues for many years. They always focus on how to make a client’s wish available even if it’s very difficult to achieve. Their advice and approaches are always reasonable and practical based on their insight, knowledge, expertise and experience in variety of financial business sectors. And especially Ms. Yamakawa’s bilingual (English / Japanese) skills helps me a lot to work on very sensitive and complicated labor & employment issues with ex-Japanese executives in the firm.’

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

Providing contentious and non-contentious employment expertise, Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners advises on regulations and represents clients in labour litigation and tribunals, including mediation and relief for unfair labour practices and negotiating with labour unions for collective bargaining agreements on behalf of employers. Another core aspect of the practice is assisting client in changing personnel systems in compliance with laws and regulations. Daisuke Mure leads the team and handles a range of employment law, litigation and regulations.

Practice head(s):

Daisuke Mure

Key clients

International Bar Association

Ushijima & Partners

Ushijima & Partners specialises in handling employment litigation, negotiations and investigations, a particular strength being acting for foreign clients in issues arising from cross-cultural communication. The 'amazingly practical and trusted advisorRikisuke Yamanaka  leads the team and has broad experience in contentious and non-contentious labour and employment matters for local and international clients.

Practice head(s):

Rikisuke Yamanaka

Testimonials

‘Great team with an ability to understand the client very pragmatically.’

‘Riki-sensei is amazingly practical and trusted advisor.’

‘It’s a niche firm but very commercial. Rikisuke Yamanaka is very responsive.’