Labour and employment: International firms and joint ventures in Japan

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise) services a diverse client roster spanning the banking, retail and technology sectors, among others. The employment team led by Tomohisa Muranushi handles employment issues including workplace policy development, restructuring and reorganisation, dismissals and workforce reductions, employee benefits, disputes, labour union relations and restrictive agreements. The group also fields a strong backbench in the form of associate Daichi Kiriyama who is especially strong in the context of international transactions.

Practice head(s):

Tomohisa Muranushi

Other key lawyers:

Daichi Kiriyama


‘This is a great team – responsive and practical with a great ability to understand how multinational companies work and where that may create challenges.’

‘The Baker McKenzie team has a broad range of experience with multinational companies, as well as deep local expertise and is well-positioned to advise companies on both the legal and cultural aspects of doing business in Japan. This is particularly important in employment.’

‘Tomohisa Muranushi does a fantastic job leading the team.’

‘In comparison to competitors, Tomohisa Muranushi and Daichi Kiriyama make a solid effort to understand the culture and practices of the company and tailor their approach to legal advice accordingly. This results in higher efficiency and reliability, as well as better client engagement.’

DLA Piper

DLA Piper covers both contentious and non-contentious mandates for its employer clients, with a particular strength in the technology sector. Under the leadership of Lawrence Carter, the employment team advises on transaction-related issues, major reductions in force, contentious collective bargaining with labour unions, employee-related investigations, negotiations with labour authorities with respect to employee regulatory issues, and defending various claims brought by former employees or unions. Also notable is the firm's claimant work against former executive employees in the context of breaches of restrictive covenants or other unfair trade practices. Takahiro Nonaka is a partner in the litigation and regulatory group and a key name to note alongside senior associates Keiji Nasuda and Koji Ohtani.

Practice head(s):

Lawrence Carter


‘The strength of DLA Piper’s labour and employment offering mainly lies with Keiji Nasuda. His knowledge, ability to grasp the situation, balanced view of things, and ability to put the company’s interest before all else is truly top-notch.’

‘Keiji Nasuda is particularly notable for his deep knowledge, timeliness, ability to consult and delegate, and his outstanding communication skills.’

Key clients

Cisco Systems G.K.

Princess Cruise Lines Ltd.

Audemars Piguet HoldingS.A.

Gilead Sciences, Inc

Gemmological Institute of America Inc.

Newell Rubbermaid/Newell Brands Inc.

Work highlights

  • Instructed to handle all employment-related matters with respect to the integration of the Japan subsidiaries of a global tech company.

K&L Gates

The labour, employment and workpace safety practice at K&L Gates represents both public and private management-side clients in the full gamut of matters spanning both contentious and non-contentious issues. Former District Court judge Takahiro Hoshino has a strong track record defending clients in the context of investigations, class action suits, workplace safety actions and advisory transactional support. Ryan Dwyer is administrative and co-founding partner of the firm's Tokyo office; he specialises in cross-border M&A, direct foreign investment into Japan and the employment issues that may arise from such matters. Also notable is Nobuki Wada who regularly advises on  restructurings, dismissals, mental health issues, and overtime pay.

Practice head(s):

Takahiro Hoshino

Other key lawyers:

Ryan Dwyer; Nobuki Wada

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills' employment, pensions, and incentives practice operates in parallel with the firm's wider dispute resolution group under the leadership of Tokyo office manager David Gilmore. The firm caters to international clients seeking assistance with their employment issues in Japan, working with local counsel as required. Gilmore has substantial experience in the investigations space where he advises on fraud, white-collar crime and insurance disputes. Also notable is dispute resolution partner Elaine Wong who has substantial experience in the infrastructure, mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. Florence Cheung has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

David Gilmore

Other key lawyers:

Elaine Wong


‘The practice consists of multinational members with great diversity. It can effectively deal with various employment-related matters from different regions of the world. The team is good at cooperating with local law firms as well.’

‘It is not easy to select individual outstanding names from within this overall excellent team.’

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP provides Japanese employment law counsel to international clients, particularly on the contentious front. However, the team also advises on non-contentious M&A transactions and the employment issues that arise therefrom. Yumiko Ohta spearheads the Tokyo-based group which was recently bolstered by the arrival of corporate associate Ben Miller from Nishimura & Asahi. In recent highlights, Ohta successfully obtained a global settlement for a multinational company in a dispute with its former founder-employee.

Practice head(s):

Yumiko Ohta