Shipping: Independent local firms in Japan

Hiratsuka & Co

International shipping and insurance boutique Hiratsuka & Co offers a full range of maritime legal services. Known for its dry and wet shipping practices, the firm has extensive expertise in maritime disputes relating to contracts (shipbuilding, sale, affreightment), product liability, collisions, salvage and groundings. Practice head Makoto Hiratsuka is hailed as a ‘legend’ in the industry and leads an ‘exceptional’ team with industry and legal experience of both the Japanese and English legal system for domestic, cross-border, and multi-jurisdictional issues. Names of note are Shinichiro Yamashita , and Yuji Miyazaki .

Practice head(s):

Makoto Hiratsuka


‘One of the most well known practices in Japan. Excellent attention to detail and knowledge of shipping law.’

‘This is an outstanding boutique shipping and insurance firm capable of taking on the larger less focussed firms on the most complex matters.’

‘Makoto Hiratsuka has been a leading Japanese shipping lawyer for more than 40 years. He was already a legend when I first met him in 1984.’

‘The firm has a close network with foreign maritime law firms, and very responsive for clients.’

‘The lawyers at Hiratsuka & Co always work as one team. For all cases, Mr. Makoto Hiratsuka pays careful attention to the matters, guaranteeing overall quality of service.’

Max Law Office

Boutique shipping firm Max Law Office’s practice offers advice for domestic and foreign shipping companies and P&I clubs. Head of firm and team lead Takayuki Matsui regularly acts in cross-border shipping litigation cases that often involve casualties. Also of note in the team are Rie Akiba, shipping finance expert, and Captain Shigeru Akachi, who focuses on casualty investigations.

Practice head(s):

Takayuki Matsui

Other key lawyers:

Shigeru Akachi; Rie Akiba

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai‘s clients range from domestic institutions and ship-owners to international banks and general trading companies for shipping related structured finance transactions. The practice is co-led by Bonnie Dixon, David Deyo Deck , Takeshi Takahashi , and Ryosuke Oue .

Nishimura & Asahi

New to the rankings, Nishimura & Asahi‘s shipping team regularly acts for lenders, lessors, lessees and ECAs in cross-border and domestic asset finance transactions relating to vessels and marine containers. The firm advises on chartering/financing and marine container leasing/financing transactions (JOLCO). The team is led by Katsu Sengoku, a shipping asset finance expert. Kosuke Shibukawa is also a shipping finance and investment expert. The ‘superbAdrian Joyce adds additional strength to the team with project and asset finance expertise relating to the shipping, offshore and LNG sectors.

Practice head(s):

Katsu Sengoku

Other key lawyers:

Kosuke Shibukawa; Adrian Joyce


‘Adrian Joyce has a broad base of expertise, but I can say without hesitating that he is truly unrivalled in LNG, finance and shipping matters, and he has established himself as the “go to” in the Japan market. I think this is because he is extremely knowledgeable and is quickly able to get to the crux of any issues and provide the most suitable and commercial solution. He is well trusted by our business and legal teams.’

‘Mr. Adrian Joyce, Partner stands out as a legal counsel in Shipping Finance practice in Tokyo as he provides legal advice service in a manner which exactly fits the client needs. High satisfaction areas include, experience, speed, documentation accuracy, billing flexibility, and client friendly interaction skills.’

‘I have been working with Nishimura since the summer of 2020. Two reasons: 1. Japanese legal advice and expertise led by strong figures (Sengoku-sensei and Partner Adrian Joyce) and 2. Track record on international maritime cases. Very good as an institution. One of best maritime law firms/extremely high commercial awareness, and best value for money’. 

‘Adrian Joyce is always superb. He is very dependable, client-first attitude, and my first call maritime lawyer when dealing with international situations in various aspects – financing, restructuring, arbitration. Rafael Bong who works for Adrian in the maritime practice is worth mentioning. While his years in this space are still nascent, his attitude is worth special mentions.’

TMI Associates

TMI AssociatesComparative Guides promotional icon’ shipping and maritime team is headed by ‘star partner’ Jumpei Osada. The firm’s offering includes both contentious and non-contentious matters such as shipping finance, as well as carriage of goods by sea, ship safety, and marine casualties. Osada has strong litigation and arbitration expertise. Another name of note is Masaaki Sasaki, who works principally on dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):

Jumpei Osada

Other key lawyers:

Masaaki Sasaki


‘With the backing of the senior partners at TMI, Osada san has built a team of talented lawyers in an area that was not previously core business for TMI.’

‘Jumpei Osada is the star and heads up the team. He is very hard working and dedicated to his clients. His dedication and work ethic is reflected in the rest of the team.’

City-Yuwa Partners

The shipping team at City-Yuwa Partners advises shipping operators on corporate, transactional, and dispute matters related to maritime business. New head of the practice Reiko Yoshida joined the from Astumi & Sakai, bringing with her, expertise in complicated non-recourse based overseas vessel financing transactions.

Practice head(s):

Reiko Yoshida


Reiko Yoshida –  in addition to her excellent English language communication skills, she has a strong understanding of English law finance and security documentation, concepts and market practice, particularly in relation to ship finance, and she is focused on high quality and responsive service.