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Japan: Life Sciences 2016

Recent advancements in medical technology and regenerative medicine are raising new challenges for Japan’s legal system. While the country’s pharmaceutical sector is almost completely dominated by domestic firms, the market is also the second largest in the world, with $115 billion of estimated sales in 2015. Coupled with an ageing population, the outlook for the sector’s growth continues to be bright, and the market is buoyant. Furthermore, with the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA) struggling to keep up with the pace of technological advancements, Japan proves itself an interesting and diverse jurisdiction for lawyers currently practicing. Thirteen lawyers stand out as the very best in the field working in Japan today.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu sees three individuals recommended for their expertise. Ryoichi Mimura is a “skilled and experienced” practitioner, who is “second to none” for life sciences companies when it comes to patent infringement litigation. Kensuke Suzuki has represented domestic and international clients on numerous cross-border transactions; he has “an excellent knowledge of how to structure deals in the industry” and his regulatory practice is also recognised as “first-rate”. Kenji Utsumi is also highly regarded for his insight into pharmaceutical commercial and corporate transactions, as well as life sciences regulatory expertise.

Abe Ikubo & Katayama garners two recommendations. Eiji Katayama is “a pre-eminent patent litigator” highly recommended for his expertise in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device disputes. Mami Hino is a patent attorney licensed to practice patent litigation, with a background in pharmacology. She is also admitted to the New York bar and is regularly sought after for her expertise in cross-border disputes.

TMI Associates also receives two recommendations, with Toshiharu Furukawa described as “a thought leader with a comprehensive legal and scientific knowledge base”. The “highly sought-after” Satoru Nagasaka is recommended by one client who says he is “invaluable to have on your side in any matter involving pharmaceuticals or medical technology”.

Tsuyoshi Sueyoshi at Yuasa and Hara is “a skilled litigator and strategist”, highly regarded for his expertise in pharmaceutical patent infringement cases.

At Kitamura & Makiyama, founder Miguel Masaru Kitamura is recommended for his “deep knowledge and experience” of both transactional and regulatory life sciences mandates. He is reportedly “meticulous and a good communicator”.

Yoshio Kumakura of Nakamura & Partners is an “elder statesman of the bar”, deeply respected for his longstanding pharmaceutical patent litigation practice.

 John Tessensohn* at Shusaku-Yamamoto is considered “a go-to practitioner in the region” for the handling of international patent infringement proceedings in the sector.

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners’ Tadashi Ishikawa has a longstanding reputation in corporate, commercial and regulatory matters for clients in the life sciences industry. “He’s very intelligent and exceedingly knowledgeable”, say respondents.

Seiji Ohno, founder of Ohno & Partners, is “a very famous name in the market”. He is admitted in Japan and New York as a patent attorney, ensuring a strong technical and cross-border background to his practice.


* Foreign-qualified lawyer

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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