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Japan: Trade & Customs 2016

Japanese economic forecasts paint a negative picture of the future. Despite attempts by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to jolt the economy out of its 20-year lull, the prospects of the Japanese market remain dim with household spending dipping for its third straight month in May 2016 and core consumer prices suffering their biggest drop since 2013. That said, Abe remains steadfast in his determination to improve fortunes in the country and has taken steps to hold off on the proposed consumption tax hike in the hope of boosting private spending. While the Japanese economy languishes, international trade is expected to suffer with Japan recording a 40.72 billion Yen deficit in May, the first deficit of the year. Exports dropped by 11.3 per cent, while imports were down by 13.8 per cent. With increasingly tough times due in the future, trade and customs lawyers can expect a busier time in terms of trade disputes as the regulatory authorities become more aggressive and multinationals seek to ensure that they remain competitive. In this chapter, seven practitioners across six firms are identified as the leading trade and customs experts in Japan.

Soga Law Office leads our research with two individuals nominated across the following pages. Name partner Takashi Soga is recognised as a “real authority in this area” by one respondent. His trade practice is “remarkable in its breadth and depth” and focuses on issues such as anti-dumping and safeguards, among others. He is joined by the “tremendous” Takuro Awazu, who has an “amazing insight” of the issues surrounding international trade, particularly in relation to Chinese trade remedies and anti-dumping issues.

At Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, the “pre-eminent and longstanding” Mitsuo Matsushita is celebrated as “the supreme practitioner in this area”. One source noted that he provided clients with a synthesis of “fantastic advice, exceptional insight and a fantastic working knowledge of the WTO, METI and MOF authorities”.

White & Case’s Osamu Umejima* receives widespread praise from peers and clients alike for his “impressive” practice focusing on international trade matters and disputes. Clients were particularly enamoured with his “vast expertise in trade remedies and anti-dumping cases” and claimed that “his fantastic working knowledge of both US and European trade-related measures proved invaluable”.

At Baker & McKenzie, Junko Suetomi is singled out as a “prominent practitioner” in the field with considerable expertise advising clients on a whole range of WTO matters, including trade remedies, export control and sanctions, customs matters and anti-dumping and countervailing duties and import restrictions.

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune’s Hiroshige Nakagawa is described by peers as an “erudite practitioner” with considerable experience advising both foreign and domestic clients on trade and customs matters. According to one source, he is “a leading authority on trade relations and anti-dumping regulations in Asia”.

At Nishimura & Asahi, Kozo Kawai is viewed as a key player in international trade and WTO matters and is a “recognised authority on anti-dumping matters”.


* 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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W11 1QQ, UK