Atsumi & Sakai > Tokyo, Japan > Firm Profile

Atsumi & Sakai

Japan > Banking and finance: Independent local firms Tier 1

Atsumi & Sakai‘s strong ties with its overseas offices yield a strong cross-border practice, with high value international matters across project finance, acquisition finance, real estate finance and financial regulatory services. The department also has expertise in general banking work, including syndicated loans, asset finance, and securitisations. The team, which includes 53 partners, is co-led by financing specialists Yuri Suzuki, Michiaki Hosoi and Keita Imaizumi, asset-based lending expert Hiroyuki Nezu, Naoki Kanehisa, who heads the London office, and founding partner Hiroo Atsumi. Also key are structured finance expert Yutaka Sakai and Akira Shimazaki, who was promoted to partner in January 2021.

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Financial Services Agency (FSA)

Work highlights

  • Commissioned by the Financial Services Agency to conduct research and prepare a report on the use, cases, and laws and regulations relating stablecoins in the United States

Japan > Corporate and M&A: Independent local firms

Atsumi & Sakai specialises in complex domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, acting for acquirers, investors, shareholders and target companies. The firm has a particular strength in international matters, due to its 2005 establishment of a foreign law joint enterprise, which drew in a significant number of foreign lawyers. Shintaro Hamasu, Masayuki Matsuura, Eiichiro Hata and Takasuke Mizukami jointly lead the department, which includes counsel Youngseop Song.

Practice head(s):

Shintaro Hamasu; Masayuki Matsuura; Eiichiro Hata; Takasuke Mizukami

Other key lawyers:

Japan > Fintech - Independent local firms Tier 1

Atsumi & Sakai, a ‘top leader in this area‘, supports a wide range of fintech industry groups and govenmental agencies active within the domestic market, with expertise across banking, securities, payment services, and data privacy. The department is also active assisting overseas fintech clients with their entry into Japan, assisting in consultations with governmental authorities and advising on the Regulatory Sandbox Scheme. Team lead Yuri Suzuki has over 20 years’ experience in the practice area, and has expertise in a wide range of financing matters, including syndicated loans, trade finance, and securitisation. Within the fintech space, Suzuki handles payments, wealth management, crowdfunding and crypto-assets. Takafumi Ochiai is another core team member, and is recognised for his expertise in blockchain technology.

Practice head(s):

Yuri Suzuki

Other key lawyers:


‘Atsumi & Sakai has a number of great network as a top leader in this area.’

‘Yuri Suzuki’s advice is practical and she has never given us practically impossible advice. In addition, she can contribute to clients’ business through her networks.’

Key clients

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. MUFG Bank, Ltd.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG)

The Organization of Global Financial City Tokyo (FinCity.Tokyo)

Fintech Association of Japan (FAJ)

Japanese Bankers Association (JBA)

The Center for Financial Industry Information Systems (FISC)

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)

Cabinet Office

Japan Association of Financial Services Intermediary Business

The Japan Association of New Economy (JANE)

National Strategy Office of Information and Communication Technology, Cabinet Secretariat

Financial Services Agency (FSA)

Japan > Investment funds: Independent local firms Tier 1

Atsumi & Sakai has notable strength in advising foreign investors promoting funds to the Japanese market. The firm has experience in the full life cycle of investment funds, from initial structuring and managing relationships with regulators, to the investment period and exit mechanisms. Akio Kawamura co-leads the team alongside Eiichiro Hata and Ryuichi Nozaki. Kawamura, who joined from Nishimura & Asahi in September 2019, focuses on providing cross-border investments and advising on regulatory matters for financial institutions and fund managers. Meanwhile Hata handles fund structure, investment and formation, and Nozaki specialises in asset management, banking and structured finance, and capital markets.

Practice head(s):

Akio Kawamura; Ryuichi Nozaki; Eiichiro Hata

Japan > Antitrust and competition: Independent local firms Tier 2

Atsumi & Sakai‘s broad expertise includes M&A, joint ventures, business-tie ups and corporate organisations, as well as an aptitude for providing antitrust compliance and risk management advice. The department has a notable strength in large-scale international cases, with experience handling internal audits, negotiations with authorities, as well as private enforcement in foreign jurisdictions. ‘Great legal mindSetsuko Yufu leads the team, and is well known in the practice area for her knowledge of both domestic and international competition matters. Cartel specialists Saori Hanada and are key names, as is Masayuki Matsuura, who has expertise in domestic and international merger cases.

Practice head(s):

Setsuko Yufu

Other key lawyers:

Tatsuo Yamashima; Masayuki Matsuura; Kohei Murakawa; Saori Hanada; Yusuke Miura


‘Good all round practice, with particular experience in cartel matters.’

‘Both Yufu-sensei and Yamashima-sensei are very good.’

‘The team is dedicated and very good at what they do. They are especially focussed, and because they are a smaller practice given you more attention.’

‘The competition practice of Atsumi & Sakai is a powerhouse at the Japanese competition bar. The team is highly experienced and of very high quality at all levels of seniority. It is particularly effective in understanding and working for European companies who want to invest in Japan.’

‘Setsuko Yufu stands out because of her extensive expertise in all aspects of Japanese competition law. She can take on even the most difficult of cases and still turn them around. She is a great legal mind whilst very practical in her approach.’

‘Saori Hanada is an excellent competition expert. She is hands-on, creative, solution-driven and a true pleasure to work with.’

‘Tatsuo Yamashima is another great lawyer in the A&S competition team. He is quick to spot the important issues and can apply his extensive experience to find effective solutions.’

‘Setsuko is a legend. Saori Hanada who now leads a team is simply fantastic.’

Japan > Intellectual property: Independent local firms Tier 2

Atsumi & Sakai advises on domestic and cross-border contractual arrangements across all areas of IP law, including patent rights, trademark rights, design rights and copyrights. The team also has experience handling the IP elements of corporate transactions and joint ventures. Chie Kasahara is lead manager for the department, and has more than 20 years’ experience working on IP matters related to TMT and life sciences. Harukuni Ito and Gai Matsushita work with Kasahara as sub managers. Ito has broad experience which inlcudes brand protection, disputes and litigation, and transactions, while Matsushita has experience applying IP law to cutting edge areas of technology.

Practice head(s):

Chie Kasahara; Harukuni Ito; Gai Matsushita

Japan > Projects and energy: Independent local firms Tier 2

Atsumi & Sakai has broad expertise in the projects and energy fields, with significant experience across LNG, petrochemicals, coal, mining, and renewable energy, for which wind power projects are a particular focus. The department is also notably active on infrastructure projects, with matters including advising Mitsubishi UFJ Reserach Institute, Aichi Prefecture and Nagoya City on the development of the site for the 20th Asian Games, to be held in 2026. The department is co-lead by Miho Niunoya, Takeshi Takahashi, Michiaki Hosoi, Makoto Fujii, Keita Imaizumi, and Ryosuke Oue. Akira Shimazaki, who made partner in January 2021, is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Miho Niunoya; Takeshi Takahashi; Michiaki Hosoi; Makoto Fujii; Keita Imaizumi; Ryosuke Oue

Other key lawyers:

Akira Shimazaki; Yutaka Sakai

Key clients

Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc. (MRI)

The Japan Research Institute, Limited (JRI)

Photovolt Development Partners GmbH

Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co., Ltd.

EY Strategy and Consulting Co., Ltd.

Japan > Real estate and construction: Independent local firms Tier 2

Atsumi & Sakai‘s ‘professional, accessible and communicative’ practice advises a broad range of domestic and foreign clients on small, medium and large-scale real estate financing deals. The team also handles real estate development and a diverse set of real estate transactions, including sales, acquisitions, and leases. Co-leading the department are gaiben partner Russell Kawahara, who has more than 40 years’ experience in the practice area, real estate transactions expert Shuji Koyama, Eiichiro Hata, who handles real estate financing, and Makoto Fujii, whose areas of expertise include REITs and real estate development. Takafumi Uematsu has expertise in cross-border real estate transactions.

Practice head(s):

Russell Kawahara; Shuji Koyama; Makoto Fujii; Eiichiro Hata

Other key lawyers:


‘Very professional, accessible and communicative.’

‘Takafumi Uematsu is extremely helpful.’

‘Partner Takafumi Uematsu is extremely helpful and knowledgable.’

Japan > Risk management and investigations: Independent local firms Tier 2

Atsumi & Sakai‘s team includes former public prosecutors, qualified CPAs, and criminal defense attorneys, and has strength in advising international clients due to its go-to team of foreign partners. Co-leading the department are Masahito Fukuda, who leads the white-collar crime team, Makoto Nakano, a former policy planning officer at the Consumer Affairs Agency who joined the firm in 2021, and Tetsuro Takeda, who was a public prosecutor prior to joining in 2020. Kohei Murakawa is also key, and specialises in domestic and international dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):

Makoto Nakano; Tetsuro Takeda; Masahito Fukuda

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

Japan Post Group

Takumino Holdings Co., Ltd.

Tosoh Corporation

Mediahouse Holdings Co., Ltd.

Japan > TMT: Independent local firms Tier 2

Atsumi & Sakai supports a broad range of clients, from startups to major international companies, on a diverse set of matters including information and data security, trademark and copyright issues, and terms of service and privacy policies. Gai Matsushita and Chie Kasahara co-lead the team. Matsushita joined in 2020 and has a strong technical background in AI technology, graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology Faculty of Enginnering in 2006, while Kasahara has more than 20 years’ experience as an IP, TMT and life sciences practitioner. Takufumi Ochiai is also key.

Practice head(s):

Gai Matsushita; Chie Kasahara

Other key lawyers:

Takafumi Ochiai

Japan > Capital markets: Independent local firms Tier 3

Atsumi & Sakai is particularly strong on securitisations and structured finance matters, and acts for a diverse range of clients both domestically and overseas. The department is co-led by Fumiko Oikawa, Madoka Hashimoto, and Shintaro Hamasu.

Practice head(s):

Fumiko Oikawa; Madoka Hashimoto; Shintaro Hamasu

Japan > Dispute resolution: Independent local firms Tier 3

Atsumi & Sakai is active in a broad set of lawsuits, arbitrations and dispute resolution matters, with a deep team of both Japanese and foreign litigators able to support clients on high-value and complex matters. The department has notable strength with cross-border disputes, and combines this with a wide range of sector speicalisms including bankruptcy, products liability, copyright litigation and corporate disputes. Co-leading the team are Toyoki Emoto, Teruhisa Toyama, Bonnie Dixon, Hisashi Miyatsuka, Yusuke Miura and Kohei Murakawa.

Practice head(s):

Toyoki Emoto; Teruhisa Toyama; Bonnie L. Dixon; Hisashi Miyatsuka; Yusuke Miura; Kohei Murakawa


‘Their advice is very helpful and well considered.’

‘They always try to provide practical and feasible advice to the client.’

‘Their advice is clear, helpful and thoughtful.’

Japan > Labour and employment: Independent local firms Tier 3

Atsumi & Sakai acts on all aspects of employment law and procedures, employment agreements, directors and officer’s service contracts, and work rules, including both contentious and non-contentious matters. The department advises both domestic and foreign corporations, and has additional experience handling immigration matters, advising foreign nationals and employers on work and study visas, changes of status, and residency applications. The team is co-led by Tatsuo Yamashima, who covers disputes, collective bargaining, and corporate legal affairs, and Emi Uchida, who is particularly experienced advising multinational companies active both within Japan and overseas.

Practice head(s):

Tatsuo Yamashima; Emi Uchida

Japan > Shipping: Independent local firms Tier 3

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.

Japan > Tax: Independent local firms Tier 3

Atsumi & Sakai provideS tax advice over a broad range of issues, with expertise across corporate tax, tax disputes, consumption tax, and other matters. Teruhisa Toyama, who handles tax litigation, risk management, due diligence, and M&A, co-leads alongside Hisashi Miyatsuka and Takashi Tezuka. Of counsel Shinichiro Shimizu leads the special tax team within the department, and covers risk managment, securities transactions, and tax planning.

Practice head(s):

Teruhisa Toyama; Hisashi Miyatsuka; Takashi Tezuka; Shinichiro Shimizu

The firm: Atsumi & Sakai is a multi-award-winning, independent Tokyo law firm, and one of the ten largest independent full-service law firms in Japan. The firm was the first Japanese law firm to create a foreign law joint venture, which enables it to admit foreign partners and so offer its clients the quality of service that the modern international business community demands. Expanding from its highly regarded finance practice, the firm now acts for a wide range of international and domestic companies, banks, financial institutions and other businesses, offering a comprehensive range of legal expertise.

International practice: Atsumi & Sakai has an outward-looking approach to its international practice, and has a number of foreign partners, consultants and attorneys with extensive experience at leading international law firms, so offering its clients the benefit of a combination of Japanese law expertise and real international experience. As the only independent Japanese law firm with an office in London, affiliate offices in New York and Frankfurt, we can also provide real-time advice on Japanese law to clients in Europe and America.

In addition to lawyers admitted in Japan (including Japanese lawyers who are admitted and maintaining qualification to practice in California, New York and England and Wales), the firm includes foreign lawyers registered in Japan to advise on the laws of the US States of New York and California, India, England and Wales, the State of Queensland, Australia, United States and Australian Federal laws, and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany (also in collaboration with Janssen Foreign Law Office).

Innovation and diversity: The firm constantly seeks to anticipate its clients’ needs for new legal services, most recently those arising from rapid technological developments in the financial services industry, and strives to provide high-quality and cost-effective services and solutions to support start-up companies. The firm also offers a flexible alternative fee arrangement tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of each client company.

Atsumi & Sakai takes a proactive approach to diversity, with nearly 25% of all lawyers being women and 11% non-Japanese, and encourages its lawyers to maintain a good work/life balance, all of which contributed to the firm being recognised as Japan’s leading law firm for employee satisfaction.

Antitrust and competition
Arbitration, dispute resolution, litigation
Asset finance
Banking and finance, securitisation, structured finance
Capital markets
Compliance, corporate governance, risk management
Energy, infrastructure, project finance
General corporate, M&A, joint ventures
Insolvency, restructuring
Investment funds, private equity and venture capital
Intellectual property
International trade and regulatory
Labour and employment
Life sciences, medical and pharmaceutical
Real estate
Sports, entertainment
Technology, telecommunications, multimedia
Number of lawyers : 210+
Contacts : Hiroo Atsumi
Contacts : Hiroyuki Nezu
Contacts : Ryuichi Nozaki
Contacts : Bonnie L Dixon
Contacts : Daniel C Hounslow
Contacts :

Atsumi & Sakai was the first independent Japanese law firm to create a foreign law joint venture.

Our Firm is committed to three core values, “Respect diversity, be rich in creativity, and have a flexible attitude.”  Consistent with these values, the Firm has established a variety of systems that emphasize equitable evaluation and work-life balance, and we are pursuing a comfortable workplace environment where diverse human resources with different backgrounds, such as nationality, gender and career, can optimize their skills and abilities.

As a result, the Firm continues to maintain a high ratio of female attorneys, as well as non-Japanese attorneys, as described below.

  • Out of more than 120 attorneys, around 30% are women
  • Out of more than 60 partners, nearly 30% are women (more than 70% of whom have children)
  • Out of 15 Management Committee members, nearly 30% are women
  • We have Registered Foreign Lawyers licensed in Japan to advise on the laws of the US States of New York and California, the People’ s Republic of China, England and Wales, India, the States of Queensland and Victoria (Australia), United States and Australian Federal law, and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany (in collaboration with Janssen Foreign Law Office)

In particular, the firm has earned high evaluation from Japanese and international organizations for equal treatment of men and women, etc. and initiatives for work-life balance, including in the following areas:

  1. The ratio of female partners at Atsumi & Sakai who are members of the firm’s Management Committee is very high. (The Atsumi & Sakai Management Committee is responsible for management and HR related decision making, and this high ratio of female attorneys on the committee reflects a family friendly office culture on the firm’s management decisions.)
  2. Atsumi & Sakai has systems in place for maternity leave and child-care leave that also apply to attorneys, and the rules relating to these systems are published internally on the firm’s intranet.
  3. The activities of the firm are team based and built up around divisions and practice groups, which allows for flexibility in handling each individual’s circumstances and support for child-care needs, etc.
  4. Atsumi & Sakai has a solid IT environment that utilizes cloud computing and virtual private networks, etc., enabling attorneys to handle work outside the office and work from home while caring for children, etc.;
  5. Atsumi & Sakai has an internal system for reporting of sexual harassment and power harassment, with multiple reporting options, in addition to which there are also annual training seminars regarding such harassment for attorneys; and
  6. Atsumi & Sakai has an occupational health physician visiting the office once a month offering free consultations for attorneys and staff alike.

While cooperating with highly talented human resources, the firm will continue to improve its diversity in order to provide an environment in which each individual can maximize his or her abilities.

Japanese 日本語









渥美坂井律师事务所・外国法共同事业(Atsumi & Sakai)







Hiroo Atsumi, Managing Partner

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Atsumi & Sakai from your competitors?

Firstly, our international capabilities.

We created a “foreign law joint venture” in Japan when Japanese law first allowed this kind of law partnership in 2005, and we are recognised as a pioneer in this field. This was successful to the extent that we have attracted several foreign attorneys who served as partners or were otherwise highly recommended lawyers in foreign countries. In addition to lawyers admitted in Japan (including Japanese lawyers also admitted in England and Wales and the Republic of the Marshall Islands), our firm includes foreign lawyers registered in Japan to advise on the laws of the US States of New York and California, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, India, and the State of Queensland, Australia. Foreign lawyers registered in Japan to advise on state laws are also qualified to advise on federal laws of their respective countries. This clearly differentiates us from other Japanese law firms since we are in a very unique position to easily combine the expertise of Japanese lawyers with that of attorneys from the foreign jurisdictions described above.

Also, we are the only independent Japanese law firm which currently has a branch office in London, and we have an affiliate office in Frankfurt. We are a member of multiple leading global networks of law firms, and have formed partnerships with APAC-International in Vietnam, and Janssen Foreign Law Office, a law office that provides German law advice in Tokyo. Our international network sets us apart from our competitors, and enables us to easily meet the needs of foreign clients as well as Japanese clients.

Secondly, our global diversity and multiplicity of talent.

As mentioned above, Atsumi & Sakai has attracted a number of foreign and multilingual attorneys, irrespective of their nationalities, speaking Japanese, English, German, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Marathi, etc.

Atsumi & Sakai also includes attorneys with a wide range of expertise, having experience in diverse practice areas and industries, such as former public prosecutors, attorneys also qualified as Certified Public Accountants, attorneys with expertise in tax/accounting or IT, and a pharmacist. Having different skills and talents enables the firm to flexibly build a multi-talented team which is tailored to each client’s specific needs.

Thirdly, our innovative approaches and new structures.

To remain competitive in the global market, our firm has always tried to adopt innovative approaches and new structures. Especially, we thought it important to meet the needs of not only clients dealing in out-bound transactions but also the needs of foreign clients pursuing in-bound transactions.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

  • Innovation in information systems and technology including IoT, big data and artificial intelligence, FinTech, InsTech, MedTech and RegTech

Deep understanding and extensive experience of laws and regulations related to data protection, finance, insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, etc. are the fundamental requirements of these practice areas, on top of which keen knowledge of the latest trends in the technology industry and experience in providing advice in the relevant area is needed. Our firm fulfills all of these conditions. Meanwhile, both working from home and purchasing online services from home have exploded into the mainstream in Japan as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, triggering a period of upheaval in Japanese business culture. We provide services that meet the needs of foreign technology companies looking to capitalize on the opportunities the situation has created.

  • Risk management and white collar crime
  • Labour and employment

Companies affected by the Coronavirus pandemic will continue to rationalize their workforce allocation for some time. We have experience in advising foreign corporations in this areas, and it is one of our strengths.

  • Investments and funds

As soon as it came into effect this year, our firm immediately began accumulating experience in advising foreign funds regarding the amended Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act, which introduced changes designed to ensure national security. Investments into Japanese companies by foreign investors must comply with the complex requirements of the amended Foreign Exchange Act, and we expect the demand for advice in this field to grow in the future.

  • Data protection and privacy, cybersecurity

Although the peak caused by GDPR and the amendment of the Japanese Act on the Protection of Personal Information has passed, data privacy remains a crucial element of compliance in the technology industry and demand for related advice continues to grow.

  • Life sciences

The life sciences field is one where the demand for extensive understanding of pharmaceutical clients’ business and the practical application of regulations is particularly high for lawyers. Our firm includes lawyers with experience as in-house counsel in major Japanese pharmaceuticals companies, and we expect to see growth in this area as well.

  • Sports, media and entertainment

We are one of the only law firms based in Japan with the capacity to provide our international clients with unapparelled expertise in the areas of sport and entertainment. Our sports & entertainment legal practice group started almost 8 years ago and has a primary focus on major international sporting events working with the international rights holders, ensuring the delivery of these events at an international standard. For over 5 years we have worked for World Rugby to assist them on all legal aspects related to the Rugby World Cup 2019 being the third largest sporting event in the World. We continue to be in the forefront, advising our clients surrounding other major international sporting events in Japan.

  • Others

Interest in national security matters, such as export controls and cyber security, is growing in countries around the world. Our firm is one of the few in Japan that took the step of establishing a national security team at an early stage.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Our firm takes a proactive approach to working with our clients to provide value for money, and we are very open to adopting international-style fee structures other than traditional hourly rates.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes, information technology has been a driving force for our service innovation. It has changed significantly the way we interact with our clients, especially with our foreign clients. We are also encouraged by the technological developments and innovations in reducing administrative work and boosting productivity further.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

For example, we were in close contact with the competent authorities regarding prior reporting under the Foreign Exchange Act which was amended this year, and proposed a practical approach to navigating the requirements to our client, a foreign investor. We also advised the client in revising transactions following the emergence of the Coronavirus, and supported the client in managing risk of loss by providing analysis and interpretation on agreements and proposing practical response measures.

Also, as mentioned in 2) above, our firm has worked for World Rugby for over 5 years to assist them on all legal aspects related to the Rugby World Cup 2019, being the third largest sporting event in the World.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

In 2019, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of the firm. We anticipate that the next three years will bring a significant turning point not only for us but also for Japan in the 21st century.

We will continue to diversify the backgrounds, experience, fields of expertise and future aims of our lawyers. It is the diversity of knowledge and experience of the lawyers at our firm, including the opportunity to interact with our foreign legal team, that allows us to find solutions to new problems our clients face. Our ability to continuously respond to the needs of clients is what enables the firm to be sustainable in the long term. Another factor for long-term sustainability from a firm management perspective is to consider multiple opinions and points of view to continuously make better decisions. We believe that in three years, we will remain a firm capable of providing advice to allow clients to choose the policy they wish to follow.