Next Generation Partners: Bengoshi

Firms To Watch: Shipping: Independent local firms

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto is building a significant shipping practice, acquiring a Setouchi office in April 2020, and cultivating expertise within its team.

Shipping: Independent local firms in Japan

Hiratsuka & Co

‘Exceptional’ boutique firm Hiratsuka & Co specialises in international shipping, insurance, and commodities, and has a strong reputation for both its dry and wet shipping practices. The department handles a broad range of disputes, including collisions, fires, and cargo claims, and is active in arbitration proceedings and Japanese courts. Department head Makoto Hiratsuka, who is praised for his ‘authoritative style, incisive advice and tenacity’, leads the ‘responsive and very reliable‘ team which includes Shinichiro Yamashita and Yuji Miyazaki.

Practice head(s):

Makoto Hiratsuka

Other key lawyers:

Shinichiro Yamashita; Yuji Miyazaki


‘This firm is led by the venerable Mak Hiratsuka, one of the most experienced shipping lawyers in Japan. He is assisted by an experienced team of partners who are well regarded in their own right.’

‘Makoto Hiratsuka is of such standing that often a phone call from him to the other side can produce a settlement. He is a tenacious litigator who fights for his clients to achieve the optimal outcome.’

‘The name partner Mr Hiratsuka is highly respected for his authoritative style, incisive advice and tenacity. He is an outstanding tactical litigator. He is bringing up younger partners with the benefit of his leadership and experience.’

‘They are an exceptional law firm and provide the highest quality of unsurpassed professional service.’

‘I have personally known Mak Hiratsuka and believe him to be one of the most highly esteemed attorneys in the world. Mak is supported by an outstanding group of professionals who likewise are exceptional.’

‘Makoto (Mak) Hiratsuka, perhaps the most senior maritime lawyer in Japan. Sound knowledge and vast experience in litigation practice in the arbitration as well as at courts.’

‘Very good team. Responsive and very reliable.’

‘Hiratsuka & Co. is a Tokyo law firm providing a full range of domestic and cross-border Japanese legal services, and they are legal specialists always providing high quality and time-cost-effective service.’

Work highlights

  • Defended Chubb from Mitsui Sumitomo Ins.’s claim under reinsurance policy in the amount of about USD70 million for Mitsui & Co.’s portion of BP’s costs for cleaning of oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon and obtained the Tokyo Court of Appeal judgment to dismiss the claim.

Max Law Office

Max Law Office is a boutique shipping firm, active for P&I clubs and shipping companies. The firm caters to both domestic and foreign clients, and handles both wet and dry cases, with an aptitude for complex cross-border litigation. Firm head Takayuki Matsui, described as ’almost a force of nature’, leads the team, and has siginficant experience in high-profile contentious matters. Rie Akiba, whose specialism is shipping finance, is another core team member, as is casualty investigator Captain Shigeru Akachi.

Practice head(s):

Takayuki Matsui

Other key lawyers:

Shigeru Akachi; Rie Akiba


‘Max Law Office is supported by Taka Matsui and his partner Rie Akiba. Taka Matsui is one of the most famous lawyers in Japan for shipping work. He has a reputation here amongst lawyers and P&I insurers for getting the best deal for his clients.’

‘Taka Matsui is not like any of his competitors. His work ethic is unparalleled as is his commitment to his clients and their interests. Rie Akiba is a ship finance lawyer and equally hard working.’

‘Takayuki Matsui sensei is an experienced and intelligent lawyer who is able to address the most complex maritime legal issues whether litigation or transactional based.’

Key clients

Schutzverein Deutscher Rheder


Hyundai Marchant Marine


American President Line

Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi‘s highly experienced asset finance team is highly active on complex domestic and cross-border maritime transactions, including the full range of leasing and financing work. In particular, the department has significant experience on Japanese Operating Lease Transactions with Call Options (JOLCOs). Katsu Sengoku, whose practice focuses on ship leasing, financing and trading, leads the team which includes finance and investment expert Kosuke Shibukawa, and Adrian Joyce, who covers cross-border finance and asset transactions.

Practice head(s):

Katsu Sengoku

Other key lawyers:

Kosuke Shibukawa; Adrian Joyce

Key clients

Financial Products Group Co., Ltd.

TMI Associates

TMI Associates fields a team experienced in all areas of shipping and maritime law, with a record of both contentious and non-contentious work. The ‘outstandingJumpei Osada leads the team, and has a broad practice which includes shipping finance, S&P transactions, and contentious matters including casualties. Masaaki Sasaki advises on international trade, bankruptcy cases and insurance regulations, in addition to a significant dispute resolution practice.

Practice head(s):

Jumpei Osada

Other key lawyers:

Masaaki Sasaki


‘TMI’s team is not biased toward either ship finance or maritime claims as its practice areas, and is able to provide comprehensive legal services.’

‘In working with Mr Jumpei Osada on ship finance, I have found his knowledge of Japanese and English law (maritime and financial), his knowledge and understanding of the shipping and shipbuilding industry, his quick response and his personality to be truly outstanding.’

‘Mr. Masaaki Sasaki always provides appropriate advice in the field of maritime law, based on his extensive experience.’

Atsumi & Sakai

Atsumi & Sakai brings financial expertise to the shipping industry, with significant knowledge of complex structured finance, securitisation, project finance, and ship finance. The team is led by Bonnie Dixon, David Deyo Deck, Takeshi Takahashi, and Ryosuke Oue. Yusuke Miura is a key name.

Other key lawyers:

Yusuke Miura; Tatsuo Yamashima

City-Yuwa Partners

City-Yuwa Partners provides a broad range of services, including advising on general corporate matters, transactional matters, disputes, and corporate reorganisations. Department head Reiko Yoshida, who joined from Atsumi & Sakai in 2021, has more than 20 years’ experience in the practice area. Yoshida specialises in shipping finance, and has a record of leading on complex multijurisdictional transactions.

Practice head(s):

Reiko Yoshida


‘Strong English language ability. Good understanding of English law concepts. Ability to draft complex documents in English.’

‘Strong ship finance industry knowledge.’

‘Very responsive. Friendly and respectful.’

‘Reiko Yoshida is the stand-out partner.’