Leading Individuals: Gaiben

Rising Stars: Bengoshi

Real estate and construction: International firms and joint ventures in Japan

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)

Baker McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise)’s real estate and construction practices function as part of the firm’s wider projects group. Recognised for its robust energy and natural resources work, the team focuses on inbound and outbound matters for Japanese companies and foreign clients investing in Japan. The construction and real estate teams feature practitioners qualified across the Asia-Pacific region, the US and Europe, and are led by Ean Mac Pherson and Seishi Ikeda respectively. Ikeda specialises in advising on structured real estate investments, while Mac Pherson focuses on overseas project investments and has acted on a number of major mining, oil and gas, infrastructure and conventional and renewable energy mandates. The group is also supported by the banking and finance practice and advises across a range of industry sectors on property acquisitions, disposals, financings, developments, and leases. Samir Desai is also a key contact within the team, particularly for EPC contractors and owners, and Taijiro Suzuki regularly handles finance-related work. Maki Kawamura was recently promoted to partner and has an active cross-border real estate practice.

Practice head(s):

Ean Mac Pherson; Seishi Ikeda


‘Seishi Ikeda and his team have a strong background, experience and knowledge in estate transactions, it was very helpful.’

‘It is rare to find an international firm focused on real estate sales and able to advise on corporate structures viable for developing and selling properties.’

‘Very customer oriented and the perfect solution for international clients who need local legal services in English.’

‘The Baker McKenzie team performed very professionally for us and our project.’

Key clients

Nomura Real Estate

Northland Power Inc.


Vena Energy

Pacifico Energy K.K.

Total Solar International and SB Energy Corp.

Forest Energy

Wyndham Vacation Clubs Asia Pacific

Pacific Century Group


China Merchants Commercial REIT

Work highlights

  • Advised Air Trunk on all aspects of the complex structure, development and financing of a large 300MW+ hyperscale data centre project located Inzai, Chiba in Japan.
  • Advised Nomura Real Estate on both its selection of an international operator and brand for the development, design, branding and management of a luxury hotel as part of its mixed-use Shibaura waterfront redevelopment project, as well as the negotiation of preliminary and definitive agreements.
  • Advised China Merchants Commercial REIT, on its Reg S global offering of 750,000,000 REIT Units in Hong Kong.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance’s real estate and construction practice advises on significant asset acquisitions and divestments, developments, and M&A transactions in the real estate space. The team works in tandem with the finance and disputes practices to offer domestic and foreign clients advice on the full range of real estate issues. Eiichi Kanda heads up the team, and specialises in a broad range of matters relating to real estate. Leng-Fong Lai is also a key contact within the team, with extensive experience advising sponsors and financiers on Japanese and cross-border financing matters. Yusuke Abe supports the real estate practice with his expertise in banking and finance work, and Hans Menski advises on cross-border power and energy development projects with multi-source financing elements. Counsel Yoshiaki Shimizu is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Eiichi Kanda


‘Understand the commercial, industries practicalities and provide the necessary advice.’

‘Ability to bridge the challenges faced by international clients and provide necessary support.’

‘Eiichi Kanda has good subject matter expertise, is responsive, and is also keenly tuned to commercial considerations and able to offer creative solutions to issues faced.’

‘The Clifford Chance team that I worked with was very knowledgeable about the real estate finance market and easy to work with.’

‘The team always provided quick responses and prioritised clients.’

Key clients

Westmont Hospitality Group

CBRE Global Investors Japan KK

Berjaya Land Berhad

AXA Real Estate Investment Managers

Tokyu Livable Inc.


Odakyu Electric Railways Co., Ltd.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

Mitsubishi Corporation

Allianz Real Estate

Partners Group

Work highlights

  • Advised AXA Investment Managers on the acquisition of the ESR Kuki Distribution Centre in Japan for approximately $368m.
  • Advised Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, on its acquisition of a Grade A office property 25km west of central Tokyo, Japan in Tama New Town, on behalf of its clients. Deal value reported by Nikkei is approximately ¥20bn.
  • Advised Allianz Real Estate on its investment in prime multi-family residential assets in Tokyo with an aggregate acquisition price of €110m.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Craig Shepherd leads the Herbert Smith Freehills LLP real estate and construction practice, which provides a full-service offering to clients, with advice across the full project life-cycle. With both non-contentious and disputes practices, the team has deep sector expertise in the power, renewables, gas infrastructure, nuclear, shipbuilding, and road and rail industries. Shepherd regularly acts for Japan and Asia-based clients in complex infrastructure disputes, while David Gilmore, who heads up the Japan dispute resolution team, supports the construction practice with his international commercial dispute resolution expertise. Elaine Wong joined the Tokyo team from the Singapore office, further strengthening the team’s international arbitration and investigation capabilities.

Practice head(s):

Craig Shepherd


‘Elaine Wong is an excellent lawyer, especially an extremely competent, honest and innovative lawyer combining attention to detail, foresight, agile response, and she also has integrity.’

‘Impressive overall experience. Very responsive, dynamic, deep knowledge of disputes and rules of arbitration, and customer focused.’

‘Herbert Smith Freehills (Tokyo) is a law firm which gives advice backed up by deep and accurate legal knowledge, as well as firmly and promptly responding to our needs that it accurately grasps.’

‘I would describe Yosuke Homma as an excellent lawyer, especially very meticulous and thoughtful lawyer. Additionally, he understands our perspective and desires very well.’

‘The team have great experience and knowledge in this sector. Advice is sensible, reasonable and practical.’

‘Appointing the HSF team has been one of the best decisions we have made. The team truly works together as a “team” and provides extraordinary high quality legal service which has made a difference to our own competitiveness as a company.’

‘The commitment, industry knowledge and innovativeness of all the individuals which we work with, make them stand out amongst many of the legal professionals that I have worked with.’ 

‘Craig Shepherd is very committed and sensible in his dealings and has a commercial and solution oriented approach. He has deep expertise across the full spectrum of disputes especially those related to construction, energy and infrastructure.’

Key clients

First Gen Corporation

Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Sumitomo Metal Mining

Hitachi Construction Machinery

Work highlights

  • Representing TTCL Public Co. Ltd, a joint venture between Toyo Engineering Corporation (TEC) and Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (ITD) and TTCL Vietnam Co. Ltd as counsel against a Vietnamese state-owned entity in claims arising in relation to a processing plant in Southeast Asia.
  • Advising a major Japanese company in connection with an international arbitration (under the rules of the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre) concerning delays and disruption to the completion of an urban rail project in Southeast Asia.
  • Advising a Japanese conglomerate on issues of non-payment arising out of a long-term off-take agreement for a plant in Sri Lanka, including arbitration and expert determination issues.

Morrison Foerster

Morrison Foerster’s real estate group is led by Theodore Seltzer and Masahiro Shiga, and represents clients at all stages of the real estate investment cycle, from fund formation issues, to project acquisitions and financings, portfolio sales and public offerings. Seltzer advises on cross-border equity and debt financing issues, fund formations, development projects and distressed loan portfolio acquisitions, while Shiga regularly acts for major commercial lenders, investors and investment banks. Also of note is Joshua Isenberg with extensive expertise in real estate transactions, acting for institutional and private clients in connection with office, industrial, hotel, retail, mixed-use and multi-family projects. Junichi Kurokoshi and Narutake Takasu are also key contacts in relation to real estate transactions. At non-partner level, counsel Christopher Spalding is a noteworthy practitioner.


‘The firm has a well-rounded understanding of technical requirements in the US.’

‘Morrison Foerster is very strong in structured financing in construction/real estate etc. We have worked with them for many years and trust them to handle transactions capably and efficiently.’

‘Theo Seltzer has deep experience, is always calm and collected, and can be relied upon to run a complex process. He has great judgment and is good at offering a well-informed perspective as a foreign lawyer on Japanese legal issues.’

‘They are always kind and calm and easy to contact when we have issues to consult. Very reliable and great members.’

Key clients

Asia Pacific Land (Japan) Limited

Angelo, Gordon & Co.

Credit Suisse

Farallon Capital

GreenOak Investment Management

Savills Investment Management


Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation


ITOCHU Corporation


Work highlights

  • Represented North American Sekisui House in connection with joint venture investments to develop multi-family residential projects in multiple cities in the US.

White & Case LLP - White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association)

White & Case LLP – White & Case Law Offices (Registered Association)’s real estate and construction practice focuses on inbound and outbound transactions relating to the full gamut of real estate assets, acting for developers, owners, private and institutional investors, investment funds, lenders, and underwriters. Mizuho Yamada heads up the team which has seen an uptick in data centre instructions; the group recently advised on ESR’s acquisition of an Osaka data centre asset part of $2.15bn project. Also of note in the team is Ayako Kawano, who is an expert in J-REITs and complex financing deals.

Practice head(s):

Mizuho Yamada

Other key lawyers:

Ayako Kawano; Kazuo Kasai


‘The team is very reliable. They understand client’s needs and concerns and show pragmatism in finding solutions to address them.’

‘Both Mizuho Yamada and Kazuo Kasai are composed and knowledgeable. Quick to get the client’s objectives and to suggest constructive solutions. They bring a valuable insight on local market standards.’

‘Fantastic team with tremendous work ethic. Flexibility to entertain both Japanese and Western approaches to build a bridge between the two and deliver an excellent outcome. Superb service particularly as it was all done virtually.’

‘We were truly satisfied with their expert advice as well as timely response, which helped us to proceed the deal within the expected time frame.’

‘The depth of experience that W&C Japan team possesses is evident across the team’s high efficiency and concrete translation of our commercial intentions.’

‘One of the individuals that stand out to us is the main Partner, Mizuho Yamada. He has gone above and beyond in terms of liaising with external tax consultants to generate the most optimal tax structure for us. His expertise and flexibility have fully catered to our commercial viewpoints in this transaction.’

Key clients

Starwood Capital Group

Pacific Alliance Group (formerly known as Secured Capital Japan)


Work highlights

  • Advised Starwood Capital Group on the tender offer for Invesco Office J-REIT one of the first ever tender offers that aims to take private a listed REIT in Japan and the first ever hostile tender offer for a listed REIT in Japan.
  • Acted for ESR on the $368m acquisition of ESR Kuki Distribution Centre.
  • Advised ESR on its acquisition of an Osaka data centre asset, as part of a planned $2.15bn project.

DLA Piper Tokyo Partnership Gaikokuho Kyodojigyo Horitsu Jimusho

DLA Piper Tokyo Partnership Gaikokuho Kyodojigyo Horitsu Jimusho’s real estate team advises clients on all facets of real estate mandates including acquisitions, disposals, investments, securitisations, developments and financings with notable experience acting for hotel and other hospitality brands. Working closely with the firm’s finance, projects and restructuring teams and also leveraging the firm's wider global network, the group is led by Mitsuharu Kataoka, who has particular expertise in advising international hotel and timeshare brands.

Practice head(s):

Mitsuharu Kataoka


‘ The team collaboratively works together to ensure requests are handled as soon and smoothly as possible.’

‘Mitsuhara Kataoka is friendly and professional, with excellent English language skills.’

‘The firm is excellent with client service. We can definitely acknowledge their commercial awareness on any matter that we seek advice from them. Their fees for the services are justified considering the meticulous work and quality of their services.’

‘The team collaboratively works together to ensure requests are handled as soon and smoothly as possible.’

Key clients

AJM Global Investments

Hyatt Regency Osaka (HRO)

Daito Trust Construction

SIMEC Atlantis Energy

Marriott Hotels

Marriott Vacations Worldwide

Bristol Myers Squibb

Frasers Hospitality

Gaw Capital

Far East Hospitality Management

Work highlights

  • Advised on Bristol Myers Squibb’s office lease for a new large integrated office in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Advised on Envocore’s construction projects in US military bases in Japan.
  • Advised SIMEC Atlantis Energy on Japanese construction business license matters relating to its tidal power plant construction.

Greenberg Traurig Tokyo Law Offices

Greenberg Traurig Tokyo Law Offices’ real estate practice has both inbound and outbound investment expertise, and the practice covers all key asset classes in Japan spanning residential properties, office buildings, mixed-use and retail properties, logistics facilities, life sciences properties and data centres. The firm also maintains a real estate fund practice with private equity specialists advising sponsors and investors in Japan or abroad. The team is jointly led by Joel Rothstein, who oversees the firm’s Asia-wide real estate practice, and Mori Inada, who joined the team in 2021 from Morrison Foerster to bolster its capacity for advising international cross-border investors. Also of note within the team are Makoto Koinuma, who specialises in real estate fund formation and management work, and associate Motohiro Matsumura who has extensive experience in handling complex real estate and asset-based finance transactions for both international and domestic institutions and investors.

Practice head(s):

Joel Rothstein; Mori Inada


‘Compared to other firms, they provided answers quickly. They explained our concerns and the possible risks and the risks that we could practically take, and we had the impression that he gave us in-depth proposals.’

Key clients

Aberdeen Standard Investments


Allianz Real Estate

Aman Hotels and Resorts



Fortress Investment Group

GI Capital Management Limited



Grand Harbour Investment Management

Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos

IGIS Asset Management

Japan Post Bank

Kenzo Capital


Las Vegas Sands

LaSalle Investment Advisors


M&G Real Estate

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

Nomura Capital

Norinchukin Bank

Oshidori International

Savills Investment Management

Shinsei Bank

SMBC Trust Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising a Japanese data centre platform on the structuring and implementing of an innovative platform to develop, manage, lease, and sell large-scale data centre facilities in Japan, where $1bn of equity has been committed to the platform.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Yuko Ino leads the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP international real estate practice, which handles an array of sophisticated real estate investments, complex cross-border real property and portfolio acquisitions, financings and joint ventures for a client roster of Japanese and global investors. Ino has significant expertise in crowd funding structures, joint venture arrangements, restructurings and workouts, and also advises Japanese companies on real estate outbound investment in the US, often as a joint venture capital partner.

Practice head(s):

Yuko Ino 


‘What makes this practice unique is the necessity of expertise in both domestic and international legal standards. There are only a limited number of firms that are able to provide both expertise, and out of them, Orrick stands out in their outstanding performance.’

‘Yuko Ino, has distinguishably high expertise in a variety of investment structures. She is capable of communicating globally within her organization precisely providing us with knowledge on new investment structures. I highly praise her for her problem solving capabilities, presentation skills and execution capabilities.’

Key clients

Fortress Investment Group Japan

Great Eagle / Langham Hotels Investment

Loadstar Capital

Westbrook Partners

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s construction practice sits within the the firm’s wider global energy, and infrastructure team. Under the leadership of Simon Barrett, the group advises Japanese corporates, trading houses, contractors, oil and gas companies and financial institutions on high-value construction disputes and LNG development projects. The team’s core strengths lie in it’s power and energy work, and Barrett is a construction expert in the oil and gas, power, chemical and transport sectors, having worked on projects in over 25 jurisdictions. Also in the team is Olivia Matsushita, who focuses on energy and infrastructure developments and finance work. Anthony Raven departed for an in-house role.

Practice head(s):

Simon Barrett

Other key lawyers:

Olivia Matsushita


‘The team is very knowledgeable about the industry and responsive to our needs.’

‘Olivia Matsushita is very responsive and provides clear, practical advice.’

‘Pillsbury establishes a team which consists of lawyers best for the case, not chosen from the responsible partner’s practice. This makes Pillsbury’s case management very productive, efficient and reasonable.’

‘Simon Barrett deeply understands the client and arranges everything appropriately.’

‘The law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP has a lot of experience in the construction industry. We rely heavily on their service especially in the area of the cross-border construction agreements.’

Key clients

Osaka Gas Co., Ltd

Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.

JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation

GS Energy Corporation

Sojitz Corporation

Kawasaki Heavy Industries

Mitsui & Co., Ltd and MOECO

First Solar

Chiyoda Corporation

IHI Corporation

Metal One Corporation

Forte Energy NL

MNG Gold Jersey Limited

Kajima Corporation

JGC Corporation

Kirin Corporation

Hikari Miso

Korean West Power

Withers Japan, Zeirishi Houjin

The real estate team at Withers Japan, Zeirishi Houjin focuses on advising on cross-border joint ventures, acquisitions, financing worm, and real estate portfolio sales. The group fields experienced partners who advise on the full spectrum of real estate and property financing work relating to residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Gerald Fujii focuses on investment funds and REIT issues, and Toshihiko Tsuchiya assists clients with acquisitions, disposals and leasing mandates, while Steven Wheeler focuses on property M&A and Naoki Ueyama is an international finance expert.

Key clients

Capital Land

CLSA Capital

Deutsche Bank

Fortress Real Estate Asia

JP Morgan

LaSalle Investment Management

Maiora Asset Management Pte Ltd

Mapletree Investments

Morgan Stanley


PAG Investment Management Ltd.

Shinsei Bank

Starwood Capital Asia Limited

Jones Day

Jones Day’s real estate team is led by Katsumi Shirai, who advises domestic Japanese clients on outbound matters. The team also acts for foreign real estate funds looking to invest in the Japanese market.

Practice head(s):

Katsumi Shirai

Mayer Brown

Rupert Burrows heads up Mayer Brown GJBJ’s construction practice, which is integrated within the firm’s international construction group and projects team. The department specialises in handling large-scale, high-value construction projects for clients including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Toshiba and Central Japan Railway Company.

Practice head(s):

Rupert Burrows


‘They are extremely aware of the client’s needs and concerns. Also their fully bilingual capability (Japanese and English) is extremely valuable.’

‘The team lead by Rupert Burrows is the essential part of the team that makes working with them so effective.’

Key clients

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

IHI Corporation

Sumitomo Corporation

Hitachi, Ltd.

Toshiba Corporation

Central Japan Railway Company

Work highlights

  • Advising Japan consortium on the Texas Central High Speed Rail Project. Japan consortium is to design and build a railway line and fast-train system (“Shinkansen”) between Dallas and Houston.