Labour and employment: Independent local firms in Japan

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Kazutoshi Kakuyama, Hideki Thurgood Kanoh, Yukiko ImazuJunichi Ueda and Kensuke Otsuki jointly lead Anderson Mori & Tomotsune‘s dedicated labour and employment team, which ‘provides the best advice for companies in light of laws and judicial precedents‘. The group is notably active across transactional and contentious work, and is particularly highlighted for its expertise in wrongful dismissal claims and the related compensation issues. Ueda is recommended for transactional work, assisting both domestic and global clients, while Nobuhito Sawasaki is a key name to note for contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

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

Other key lawyers:

Nobuhito Sawasak


‘They provide the best advice for companies in light of laws and judicial precedents.’

‘Their input is always detailed and accurate.’

‘Kensuke Otsuki is really capable when preparing documents.’

‘They have a good solid team of employment specialists who can advise on Japan labour matters.’

‘I think they are the best legal firm I have ever known, especially the employment and labour law team.’

‘I can say with confidence that Anderson Mori & Tomotsune is the best as far as I am concerned. Especially when it comes to labour law, the very well-known and highly respected attorney Mr. Kakuyama and his successor, Mr. Otsuki, are the best duo, and you will be very satisfied with the results if you work with them.’

Work highlights

  • Defending a client in multiple large disputes in Japan for redundancy terminations involving more than a couple of hundred plaintiffs resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic business downturn.
  • Defending a client in court and labour commission proceedings in Japan regarding redundancy termination and unfair labour practice claims filed by many ex-employees and their labour union.

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

The group at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto fields ‘many excellent lawyers who have a lot of specialities and cover a wide range of employment issues‘. These include the group co-heads; litigators Chisako Takaya and Taichi Arai, and Yoshikazu Abe, who is prised for his ‘wealth of experience and knowledge of labour matters’. Elsewhere, Shiho Ono is known for representing corporations in labour related dispute resolution and is described by one client as ‘an outstanding Japanese employment lawyer, providing excellent practical advice’. The group also has a strong international presence, including a presence across East Asia, which it leverages on cross-border work. Fumiko Hama was promoted to the partnership in 2023.

Practice head(s):

Chisako Takaya; Taichi Arai; Yoshikazu Abe

Other key lawyers:

Shiho Ono; Fumiko Hama; Masahiro Ueda


‘This firm has many excellent lawyers. They have a lot of specialities and cover a wide range of employment issues.’

‘Yoshikazu Abe has a wealth of experience and knowledge of labour matters and he always gives us appropriate advice.’

‘Response from the team is timely.

‘Shiho Ono is an outstanding Japanese employment lawyer. She provides excellent practical advice and is my first point of call when my clients require Japan employment law assistance. Her advice is crystal clear, concise and practical. I highly recommend Shiho.’

‘They are always very quick to respond to all of our questions and issues that we face. If the questions/cases are simple, they provide us with the detailed legal practice to follow. If the cases are complicated and sensitive, they carefully choose words to negotiate with other parties that we have a problem with for amicable resolution.’

‘Yoshikazu Abe is the partner I work with on labour dispute issues. He is super helpful and he is very quick at replying to my inquiries. He provides insightful and practical legal advice to me. I really appreciate him.’

‘Usually, two to three attorneys assist us with each case, and I have nothing but gratitude for the advice and the speed of the advice.’

‘Chisako Takaya has an exceptional knowledge especially in labour law and employment related matters. She tries to solve the issues whilst understanding cultural differences. Their qualities are extraordinary. I value their work so much. I cannot appreciate enough that they are with us.’

Key clients

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

ROHTO Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Shiseido Corporation

Bayer Holding Ltd.

ispace, inc.

XL Catlin Japan Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Representing Japan Post in various types of class-action litigation, which were filed between 2020-2021 with Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kochi, Fukuoka and Nagasaki District Courts.
  • Assisted Shiseido Corporation with all aspects of HR and labour relations.
  • Successfully representing Bayer Holding in a labour dispute.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu‘s group in Tokyo, which has ‘an excellent understanding of the needs of US companies‘, often advises members of global company management as well as domestic companies. Norimitsu Arai has a long history of acting in union-related matters, litigation and transactional work, while practice head Hisaya Kimura is well supported by Eriko Ogata, who has a great deal of experience handling investigations conducted by labour authorities. Satoshi Hosokawa is a go-to team member for contentious labour and employment matters and harassment investigations.

Practice head(s):

Hisaya Kimura

Other key lawyers:

Eriko Ogata; Norimitsu Arai; Satoshi Hosokawa


‘An excellent understanding of the needs of US companies.’

‘The firm has lawyers with strong English language capabilities which is helpful for multinational employers without local in-house counsel in Japan.’

‘Responsiveness, thoroughness, great results.’

Key clients

Japan Post Co., Ltd.

Nishimura & Asahi

The employment group at Nishimura & Asahi leverages the firm's wider expertise to work in a cross-disciplinary manner, and is particularly noted for its litigation experience, where it is active in cases including Court of Appeal claims. The full-service offering also includes advising clients on new developments in Japanese employment law, transactional issues and compliance work. Yuri Sugano and Jiro Abe are the duo leading the team; Sugano primarily focuses on layoffs arising from insolvencies and restructurings, while Abe has a strong track record of assisting clients with matters running the gamut of labour and employment law, including trade union negotiations.

Practice head(s):

Yuri Sugano; Jiro Abe

Other key lawyers:

Yukihiko Watanabe

Key clients

INPEX Corporation

Dow Chemical Japan

Work highlights

  • Advised a Japanese electronic components manufacturer on various employment compliance and regulatory matters.

TMI Associates

Mie Fujimoto, Motoi Fujii and Keisuke Kondo head up TMI Associates‘ large labour and employment practice group; Kondo and Fujii represent clients in a range of litigation, while Fujimoto also handles the employment aspects of corporate transactions. The wider group handles the full range of employment mandates for a variety of Japanese and international clients, leveraging its network of offices. Rie Taiko is a key contact for clients in the retail, staffing, manufacturing, IT and transportation sectors, while Seiji Kurihara provides advice in relation to personnel systems and transfers.

Practice head(s):

Mie Fujimoto; Motoi Fujii; Keisuke Kondo

Other key lawyers:

Rie Taiko; Seiji Kurihara

City-Yuwa Partners

A feature of City-Yuwa Partners‘ practice is its sector breadth, acting for a variety of corporate clients across the banking, retail, transportation and hospitality industries. Forming part of a group fielding ‘lawyers with diverse backgrounds and a wide range of expertise‘, litigator Noriko Higashizawa runs the team alongside Akira Nagasaki, who is praised for giving ‘balanced advice while clarifying the potential risks of each case’. Kosuke Hasegawa is also a key name to note in the team, especially for mergers and acquisitions with labour law elements.

Practice head(s):

Noriko Higashizawa; Akira Nagasaki

Other key lawyers:

Kosuke Hasegawa


‘City-Yuwa Partners has lawyers with diverse backgrounds and a wide range of expertise. As a client, they serve as one-stop firm for various business matters. The quality of the lawyers is also very high in our experience. The speed of response is also remarkable. The best multilingual law firm in my 30 years in business.’

‘Akira Nagasaki is a very trustworthy person with a warm and sincere personality, not to mention his wealth of experience in labour matters. His ability to handle cases in English is also valuable to HR professionals in foreign companies. He gives us balanced advice while clarifying the potential risks of each case and providing important suggestions for our decision-making as a company.’

‘Our legal partners provide solid guidance and support on legal consultations and they try to respond and provide guidance as soon as possible after conducting research. The team ensures they deliver their response within the timeline they committed.’

Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Practitioners at Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo are experienced in labour and employment law matters. and display ‘a good understanding of the financial landscape in Japan’. More broadly, the group is also noted for being ‘particularly focused on labour law in general’, advising on the full scope of employment work and ‘strips away the legalese to provide workable commercial solutions’. Practice head Akiko Yamakawademonstrates skilled litigation assistance based on many years of experience in this field’ and Kazuki Okada has represented unions and employees in disputes. Masahiko Kinoshita is the key name to note at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Akiko Yamakawa

Other key lawyers:

Kazuki Okada; Masahiko Kinoshita; Yusuke Suzuki


‘The firm is particularly focused on labour law in general. They form a small team for each matter, which allows them to quickly respond to clients’ needs and requests. Additionally, partners at the firm generally have a strong command of English.’

‘Akiko Yamakawa clearly and concisely conveys her advice and opinions. She often takes into account the company’s circumstances and needs and provides realistic proposals. On top of that, her English proficiency is outstanding. She demonstrates skilled litigation assistance based on many years of experience in this field.’

‘The team has a good understanding of the financial landscape in Japan and is able to strip away the legalese and provide workable commercial solutions. Ability to advise in English is also a major plus.’

‘Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo strategically builds a very strong professional team and are able to give us available options with good reasoning. They assign the lawyers who are the best to support clients in an appropriate way.’

‘We have been working with Kazuki Okada, Akiko Yamakawa, and Yusuke Suzuki who are all great professionals. It is easy for a lawyer to say it’s not possible from a legal standpoint if it’s not in line with the laws, etc., trying to mitigate their firm’s risks, but they are totally different. They always come up with things that may or may not be possible, stating pros and cons and potential risks. This allows a client to consider and choose the best option from their perspective.’

Atsumi & Sakai

Tatsuo Yamashima and Emi Uchida jointly lead Atsumi & Sakai‘s team, which assists an array of long-standing clients with the full spectrum of labour and employment law matters including labour procedures, employment agreements, directors and officer’s service contracts, and work rule issues. For contentious work, clients rely on Yamashima and Hisashi Miyatsuka. The group also offers immigration expertise and utilises the knowledge present in the firm's wider regulatory and tax groups to assists with employee benefit issues.

Practice head(s):

Tatsuo Yamashima; Emi Uchida

Other key lawyers:

Hisashi Miyatsuka

Miura & Partners

The full-service team at Miura & Partners utilises the varied experience of its team members to handle a broad spectrum of employment issues including advising on internal policies, employment litigation and labour regulations. Tsuyoshi Omura leads the practice, with recent work including assisting with daily operation issues, internal codes and collective bargaining matters; and Hiroto Sugahara primarily focuses on employment litigation.

Practice head(s):

Tsuyoshi Omura

Other key lawyers:

Hiroto Sugahara


‘Hiroto Sugahara has demonstrated outstanding skills to lead our litigation case. He is good at logical and persuasive documentation and has creative ways of thinking to explore various perspectives to make our argument solid and strong.’

‘Tsuyoshi Omura’s advice is very accurate.’

‘They have talented professionals who can work with excellent collaboration which generates time effective and high quality services.’

Key clients

Japan Business Systems, Inc.


ABI Inc.

Develop Japan Group.

Japan Business Assurance Co., Ltd.


Work highlights

  • Acted as outside counsel to Japan Business Systems, Inc. in labour and employment matters, handling the investigation and response to a disguised dispatch (violation of the Worker Dispatching Act).
  • Acted as outside counsel to KADOKAWA CORPORATION in labour and employment matters and advised on the maintenance of rules and regulations.
  • Acted as outside counsel to ABI Inc. in the area of labour and employment matters, handling problematic employees, employees on leave, and other labour law consultations.

Ushijima & Partners

Ushijima & Partners‘ practitioners are well placed to deal with the full range of labour and employment matters, including employment litigation, negotiations and investigations. Leading the group is Rikisuke Yamanaka, who ‘is very professional and has a lot of experience’ and handles an array of labour law issues. The team often works with international clients, and is praised for being ‘very responsive, sensitive to and familiar with global business needs and norms’ as well as ‘helpful in explaining unique aspects of Japanese law and culture to global management’.

Practice head(s):

Rikisuke Yamanaka


‘Very responsive, sensitive to and familiar with global business needs and norms, helpful in explaining unique aspects of Japanese law and culture to global management. An excellent and reliable guide to Japanese legal issues.’

‘Rikisuke Yamanaka is really the only individual at Ushijima we have worked with, but I would count him among the best of our network of employment attorneys around the world. He is always professional and very responsive.’

‘The law firm collaborates well with our company.’

‘Rikisuke Yamanaka is very professional and has a lot of experience.’

‘I’ve been working closely with the employment lawyers at this firm for many years. They have assisted numerous American clients with Japanese operations and have provided practical and highly responsive advice.’

‘Rikisuke Yamanaka is very smart and creative and very easy to work with. His English is excellent and he understands how to provide the advice that is expected from American companies.’

‘The team has ample experience of handling employment law issues in Japan for foreign clients, such as cross-border employee transfers.’

‘Rikisuke Yamanaka is very responsive, and he can provide commercially practical advice based on his experience of various employment law matters in Japan.’

Yokogi & Masui Partners

Masatoshi Yokogi and Koji Kameda head up Yokogi & Masui Partners‘ team, which is known for its ‘clear focus on labour law and a steady accumulation of specialist knowledge and experience in this area’. Yokogi is highlighted as a ‘ professional, trustworthy, and sincere lawyer‘ and acts for a roster of domestic and global companies. The group’s strong knowledge of judicial precedents means that it is well placed to assist clients with day-to-day labour and employment issues.

Practice head(s):

Masatoshi Yokogi; Koji Kameda


‘They always provide effective and solid solutions based on rich experience and knowledge of difficult HR law in Japan which protects employees. Masatoshi Yokogi is the most professional, trustworthy, and sincere lawyer I have ever worked with. Highly recommended.’

‘The firm has a clear focus on labour law and a steady accumulation of specialist knowledge and experience in this area.’

‘Their experiences as in-house legal experts ensure that their advice on actual legal consultations maintains a good balance between the theoretical demands and the demands from a corporate practice.’