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Labour and employment: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

The labour and employment department of Anderson Mori & Tomotsune has broad expertise in the area, particularly in matters related to employment reduction and termination, sexual and power harassment, and labour union issues. As well as experience in dispute resolution and litigation, the firm is increasingly active in data privacy in the employment arena. The team is co-led by Kazutoshi Kakuyama, who specialises in labour, employment and general corporate law; Hideki Thurgood Kanoh, who focuses on acting for employers and companies; Yukiko Imazu, who represents Japanese and non-Japanese companies in a range of labour and employment issues; Nobuhito Sawasaki, whose strengths include labour law, pension law, M&A and the Private Information Protection Act; corporate specialist Junichi Ueda; and Kensuke Otsuki, who advises on human resources, labour management, litigation and tribunals.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

The full service Mori Hamada & Matsumoto practice provides a range of labour, employment and industrial relations services. The firm advises on compliance with employment-related legislation, management of transition and migration of staff, terminations, benefits, trade union matters and collective agreements. In addition, the department is experienced acting in employment and labour disputes. Chisako Takaya specialises in employment, litigation, cross border transactions, M&A and general corporate matters. She co-leads the team with Taichi Arai, who focuses on disputes in the area; and Yoshikazu Abe, who handles employee dismissals, overtime allowance, work-environment harassment issues, personnel reduction and labour union issues. Also notable in the area is counsel Fumiko Hama, who has expertise in corporate human resources and labour matters.

Other key lawyers:

Fumiko Hama

Testimonials

‘Mori Hamada is an established international firm’

‘They know not only local but also global practice’

‘Chisako Takaya is an outstanding partner. She provides us with the solutions which are close to clients’ expectations’

Key clients

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Work highlights

  • Represent Japan Post in class-action types of litigation, which were filed 2020 with Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kochi, Fukuoka and Nagasaki District Courts. Around 180 employees with fixed-term employment contract are plaintiffs.
  • Conducting research FOR Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry relating to the phenomenon of “second jobs and side jobs” in France, Germany and the UK as well as “the laws relating to the protection of independent contractors” in the US, the EU and the UK.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu specialises in advising international business entities and their Japanese affiliates in employment matters. The firm’s work ranges from employee contracts, regulatory compliance and contracts for executives, to redundancy procedures, collective bargaining and labour union issues. The firm is also strong in litigation and data protection matters in the area. Hisaya Kimura leads the team that includes Norimitsu Arai, who covers the spectrum of labour and employment work, including union-related matters, litigation and transactional employment advice. Also notable are Satoshi Hosokawa, who is active in disputes and employment related restructuring; and Eriko Ogata, who has particular expertise in investigations conducted by labour authorities.

Practice head(s):

Hisaya Kimura

Nishimura & Asahi

Supported by strong practices in M&A, restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency, Nishimura & Asahi’s employment practice can provide advice across a range of issues. The firm has particular experience in employment disputes and cross-border matters, as well as the crossover between technology and employment law. Yuri Sugano specialises in handling layoffs in insolvency, restructuring and winding-up situations. She co-leads the team with Jiro Abe, who advises foreign and domestic clients on issues including restructuring, post-merger integration, union negotiations and labour disputes.

Practice head(s):

Yuri Sugano; Jiro Abe

TMI Associates

Advising Japanese and multinational corporations and institutions, TMI Associates provides contentious and non-contentious experience that covers contracts, problem employees, terminations and litigation. The firm brings expertise in the financial, commercial, technology, entertainment and governmental sectors to its employment work, including in transactional matters. The practice is also active in investigations into harassment and other misconduct. Mie Fujimoto advises on labour issues across a range of industries, notably retail, finance, IT, manufacturing, transportation and logistics. She co-leads the team with Motoi Fujii, who is a strong litigator, representing clients in lawsuits and labour tribunals related to unfair dismissal, overtime payment and harassment. Other key names in the area are Rie Taiko, who focuses on labour disputes, the treatment of problem employees and redundancy; and Seiji Kurihara, whose industry expertise includes manufacturing, communications, finance and entertainment.

Practice head(s):

Mie Fujimoto; Motoi Fujii

Other key lawyers:

Rie Taiko; Seiji Kurihara

City-Yuwa Partners

Acting for domestic and international clients, City-Yuwa Partners has expertise advising on employment disputes and the termination of employees, particularly for global companies. Acting primarily on the management side, the firm’s sector knowledge covers financial, retail, manufacturing, IT, pharmaceuticals, food, transportation and hospitality. Noriko Higashizawa has experience representing global companies on a range of labour and employment matters, including litigation and arbitration. She co-leads the team with Akira Nagasaki, who focuses on complex employment litigation, as well as advice and counselling on employment issues for institutional employers and smaller companies. Also active in the area is associate Kosuke Hasegawa, who is admitted to practice in Japan and New York and handles labour and employment matters for the global clients.

Testimonials

‘Experienced Japanese lawyers who understand the needs of their clients’

‘Project team members that understand our business and industry’

‘Professional and cooperative’

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Focused primarily on providing Japanese employment law advice to global companies operating in Japan, Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo handles a range of employment and labour issues. Areas of specialism for the firm include disputes, overtime issues, redundancies, union issues and collective bargaining. The department also has experience handling sexual and power harassment investigations. Akiko Yamakawa advises on redundancies, dismissals and overtime issues, as well as a range of other employment matters. She co-leads the team with Kazuki Okada, who has particular skill in union related issues.

Practice head(s):

Akiko Yamakawa; Kazuki Okada

Other key lawyers:

Masahiko Kinoshita

Testimonials

‘Masahiko Kinoshita has an excellent understanding of how foreign companies operate in Japan, and is able to provide practical, prompt and actionable advice very speedily’

Atsumi & Sakai

The experienced Atsumi & Sakai practice specialises in advising international corporations on the termination of employment in Japan, as well as related disputes. The firm also provides expertise in immigration issues, including advising foreign nationals and their employers on visas, changes of status and residency applications. The team is led by Tatsuo Yamashima, whose strengths include antitrust and competition, labour, compliance, maritime laws and litigation cases.

Practice head(s):

Tatsuo Yamashima

Testimonials

‘Their advice is more practical and realistic.’

Iwata Godo

Iwata Godo provides broad employment advice, from HR strategy and implementing legislative changes across the workforce, to planning and managing reorganisations. The firm also has expertise in court and labour tribunal litigation, as well as the emerging area of AI and its interaction with labour law. The team is co-led by Hiroki Fujiwara, who covers a range of employment advice, including tribunals and contentious matters; litigation expert Daisuke Tokumaru; and registered foreign attorney Landry Guesdon, who handles cross-border employment law matters.

Ushijima & Partners

Specialising in employment litigation, negotiations and investigations, Ushijima & Partners proves expertise in complex employment matters for foreign and local clients. Rikisuke Yamanaka leads the team and handles a range of contentious and non-contentious employment issues for multinational companies. Also notable are Shin Ushijima, who has international and domestic experience in labour law; special counsel Shinobu Yanagita, who advises on the protection of personal information and trade secrets; and associate Makiko Yageta, whose work includes the preparation and review of employment contracts, separation agreements, work rules, labour-management agreements and regulation.

Practice head(s):

Rikisuke Yamanaka