Firms To Watch: Labour and employment: Independent local firms

Daiichi Fuyo Law Office is particularly noted for its representation of Japanese corporations on contentious employment matters.
Tsubame Law Offices, founded and led by Kunihiro Sumida, is undergoing a period of significant growth, and has experience across labour and dispute resolution matters.

Labour and employment: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune provides specialised labour and employment services to high-profile clients active both within Japan and overseas. The department has strength in both contentious and non-contentious matters, with specific areas of practice including labour unions, power harassment issues, and empoyment reduction and termination matters. The firm also provides educational resources, such as training sessions, to further familiarise managment with Japanese labour law. The department is co-led by Kazutoshi Kakuyama, whose practice includes laboUr unions, mental health issues of employees, and immigration-related services, Hideki Thurgood Kanoh, who assists employers with a broad range of issues, and Yukiko Imazu, who handles labour and employment matters for both Japanese and international companies. Also co-leading are Nobuhito Sawasaki, who has dispute resolution expertise, employee contracts and regulations specialist Junichi Ueda, and Kensuke Otsuki, whose experience covers labour management and labour litigation.

Practice head(s):

Kazutoshi Kakuyama; Hideki Thurgood Kanoh; Yukiko Imazu; Nobuhito Sawasaki; Junichi Ueda; Kensuke Otsuki

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto offers comprehensive labour, employment and industrial relations services to high profile corporate clients. The department secondees lawyers to the Ministry of Helath, Labour and Welfare to stay at the legislative cutting edge, and brings this experience to areas such as the transition and migration of staff, terminations and benefits, and trade disputes. The team is co-led by experienced litigator Chisako Takaya, foreign employment expert Taichi Arai, and Yoshikazu Abe, whose practice includes corporate human resources and labour union issues. Also key are Shiho Ono, who is particularly experienced in labour disputes, Yuko Kanamaru, who focuses on foreign companies active within Japan, and counsel Fumiko Hama, who has experience in matters such as employee dismissal, overtime alloweance, and personnel reduction.

Practice head(s):

Chisako Takaya, Taichi Arai, Yoshikazu Abe

Other key lawyers:

Fumiko Hama; Masahiro Ueda; Rina Shimada

Key clients

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Shiseido Company Limited.

Sotetsu Holdings, Inc.

Work highlights

  • Represent Japan Post in class-action type litigation filed with 7 district courts and 180 plaintiffs.
  • Advised labour law related issues in the acquisition transaction of Shisheido’s personal care buisness.
  • Represent Sotetsu Holdings, Inc. Corporation in the illegal labour practice procedure at the Central labour Relations Commissiona and Tokyo District and High Court, which was finally confirmed by the Supreme Court.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu caters primarily to managment, with a client list that includes both domestic and foreign companies over a range of industries. The department has broad contentious and non-contentious expertise, with particular areas of strength including employee contracts, redundancy procedures, collective bargaining negotiations, and non-competition covenants, and additionally supports corporate restructurings and M&A projects. Core names within the team include Norimitsu Arai, who has significant expertise handling unions, transactional employment matters, and litigation matters, and Satoshi Hosokawa, whose practice includes disputes, harassment investigations, and labour elements of corporate restructurings. The New York based Hironobu Tsukamoto is also key, and provides support for international clients.

Practice head(s):

Hisaya Kimura

Other key lawyers:

Norimitsu Arai; Satoshi Hosokawa; Hironobu Tsukamoto; Eriko Ogata

Nishimura & Asahi

Full service firm Nishimura & Asahi provides a one-stop service for all employment matters, with coverage of daily personnel and labour issues, in addition to employment disputes and overlapping legal areas such as M&A, organisational restructuring, and bankruptcy. Yuri Sugano advises both foreign and domestic clients on labour and employment matters, and specialises in handling layoffs connected to insolvencies and restructurings. Sagano co-leads the department alongside Jiro Abe, who advises on restructurings, post-merger integrations, union negotiations, and labour disputes, in addition to providing clients with seminars and training sessions in the practice area. Senior associate Yukihiko Watanabe, who joined in 2020 from boutique corporate labour firm Takai Okazeri Law Firm, is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Yuri Sagano; Jiro Abe

Other key lawyers:

Yukihiko Watanabe; Takeo Tsukamoto

Key clients

Yamanishi Co., Ltd.

Pepper Food Service Co., Ltd.

TMI Associates

TMI Associates‘ sizable labour and employment practice group advises leading Japanese and multinational corporations in both employment specific matters and broader corporate transactions. Areas of particular expertise for the group include misconduct related investigations, both individual terminations and major layoffs, and labour disputes. Mie Fujimoto, who advises on all aspects of labour and employment, and specialises in advising foreign clients operating within Japan, co-leads the group alongside Motoi Fujii, who also focuses on cross-border employment matters, with a particular emphasis on contentious work. Also co-leading is Keisuke Kondo, who covers both contentious disputes, such as harassment, unfair dismissals, and collective bargaining with labour unions, and employment aspects of M&A deals. Seiji Kurihara and Rie Taiko are also noted.

Practice head(s):

Mie Fujimoto; Motoi Fujii; Keisuke Kondo

Other key lawyers:

Seiji Kurahara; Rie Taiko

City-Yuwa Partners

City-Yuwa Partners assists both domestic and international clients with day-to-day labour and employment advice. The department is active across a broad range of sectors, including financial, retail, transportation and hospitality, with aptitude for both contentious and non-contentious matters. Noriko Higashizawa and Akira Nagasaki co-lead the department, and share a focus on litigation. Higashizawa has additional expertise in labour tribunal proceedings, while Nagasaki also handles compliance advice and counselling for institutional employers and smaller companies. Kosuke Hasegawa, who made partner in January 2022, focuses on matters with cross-border elements.

Practice head(s):

Noriko Higashizawa; Akira Nagasaki

Other key lawyers:

Kosuke Hasegawa

Iwata Godo

Iwata Godo covers all areas of employment law, including redundancies and restructurings, advising on trade union and industrial relations issues, and handling harrassment allegations and litigations. The firm is highly active for global clients, with its overseas connections further strengthened by membership of the Terralex international network. Hiroki Fujiwara, whose broad practice includes recruitment and hiring, terminations, and employment elements of corporate transactions, co-leads the department alongside arbitration and litigation specialist Daisuke Tokumaru and registered foreign attorney Landry Guesdon, who handles cross-border employment law matters. Managing partner Shinya Tago is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Hiroki Fujiwara; Daisuke Tokumaru; Landry Guesdon

Other key lawyers:

Shinya Tago

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo provide comprehensive labour and employment support to global clients with operations in Japan. The department is particularly active on contentious matters, with experience handling a broad range of employment disputes and internal investigations. Lead partner Akiko Yamakawa covers redundancies, dismissals and overtime issues, and serves on the Basic Sub-Committee for the government’s Labour Policy Council. Kazuki Okada, who has more than 40 years’ experience in employment law, is particularly strong in dealing with union issues, thanks to working as a pro-labour lawyer up until 1999.

Practice head(s):

Akiko Yamakawa

Other key lawyers:

Kazuki Okada

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai acts on all aspects of employment law and procedures, employment agreements, directors and officer’s service contracts, and work rules, including both contentious and non-contentious matters. The department advises both domestic and foreign corporations, and has additional experience handling immigration matters, advising foreign nationals and employers on work and study visas, changes of status, and residency applications. The team is co-led by Tatsuo Yamashima, who covers disputes, collective bargaining, and corporate legal affairs, and Emi Uchida, who is particularly experienced advising multinational companies active both within Japan and overseas.

Practice head(s):

Tatsuo Yamashima; Emi Uchida

Miura & Partners

Miura & Partners provides clients with guidance on every aspect of employment law, including drafting employment legal documentation, reviewing internal policies, managing outsourced employees, handling misconduct of employees, and the full range of labour litigation. The department is led by Tsuyoshi Omura, whose experience includes daily employment matters, representation for collective bargaining, and employment disputes. Associate Hiroto Sugahara is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Tsuyoshi Omura

Other key lawyers:

Hiroto Sugahara

Key clients

Kadokawa Corporation

General Incorporated foundation Aiseikai

Warabeya Nichiyo Holdings Co., Ltd.

Kyoto Semiconductor Co., Ltd.

Albert Inc.

Japan Business Assurance Co., Ltd.

HyLife Pork Japan Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Kadokawa Corporation on handling of labour-related litigation, labour unions, and other human resources matters.
  • Advised General Incorporated foundation Aiskeikai on the handling of employees and a labour union in connection with the closure of a business location.
  • Advised Warabeya Nichiyo Holdings Co., Ltd. on transferring staff in connection with corporate reorganisation.

Ushijima & Partners

Ushijima & Partners has a focus on employment litigation, negotiations, and investigations, and is particularly experienced in employee termination matters. The team has aptitude in cross-cultural matters, including those of a delicate nature. Rikisuke Yamanaka leads the department, and handles a range of issues including employee downsizing, workplace disciplinary actions, non-competition agreements, and visas and immigration.

Practice head(s):

Rikisuke Yamanaka

Other key lawyers:

Shinobu Yanagita; Makiko Yageta

Yokogi & Masui Partners

Yokogi & Masui Partners provide day-to-day legal advice on employment matters, tailored to keep abreast of the latest issues and judicial precedents within the domestic market. The team is co-lead by firm founder Masatoshi Yokogi, who advises listed companies and global corporates on a range of employment matters; and Koji Kameda, whose focus is employment law disputes.

Practice head(s):

Masatoshi Yokogi; Koji Kameda