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Japan: Banking 2016

The start of 2016 saw the Bank of Japan introduce a negative interest rate of -0.1 per cent on commercial banks. The move looks to encourage these banks’ use of cash reserves and increase lending to businesses in order to stimulate the country’s suffering economy. At a grassroots level, the government continues to steer away from its traditional cash-based society, and encourage the use of modern alternatives such as debit cards and internet banking among its citizens. As the Japanese administration focuses on the development of modern banking and forces commercial activity, lawyers expect a diverse range of work over the coming year. This year we recognise 19 leaders in the field. 

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto performs strongly with an impressive three listings. The “pre-eminent” Toru Ishiguro boasts a “prestigious regulatory practice”. He is a favourite among clients who laud his “business-minded approach”. Masanori Sato is considered a “world-class finance lawyer” and “never fails to deliver insightful and intuitive counsel” to clients. The “brilliant” Yuto Matsumura gains recognition for his “invaluable expertise” dealing with M&A transactions on behalf of banks and other financial institutions.

At Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, the “accomplished” Satoshi Inoue is noted for his “expert handling” of complex financial transactions. Alongside him, Jiro Mikami is considered the “go-to lawyer” when it comes to acquisition finance.

Clifford Chance’s Masayuki Okamoto focuses on M&A, structured and real estate financing. He is also widely recognised for his “extensive regulatory knowledge”. Clifford Chance’s Masayuki Okamoto is also recommended for his expertise in banking transactions.

Nishimura & Asahi boasts a “first-class” banking group that regularly handles the structuring and documentation of financial transactions and advises on regulatory and compliance issues related to Japanese banking law. Masaru Ono stands out for his “excellent negotiation skills” and “strong understanding” of domestic and foreign banking systems. He is joined by Katsu Sengoku who is praised for the “impeccable work” that he delivers to clients.

At Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, Isao Shindo is no stranger to complex regulatory matters, which he handles “in a calm and measured manner” according to clients. The “excellent” Masaakira Kitazawa represents both foreign and domestic major financial institutions in relation to financial regulation, compliance and transactions.

Hiroo Atsumi at Atsumi & Sakai is an experienced lawyer with a comprehensive understanding of Japanese banking and finance law. He is considered “a go to player” in the country.

Etienne Gelencsér* at Shearman & Sterling offers clients a “sophisticated and professional service”, and is admired for his “strong finance expertise”.

King & Spalding’s Tokyo managing partner John McClenahan* is a “naturally gifted practitioner” known for his particular knowledge of the financing of infrastructure and energy projects.

Allen & Overy is represented by Scott Neilson* who garners praise for advising lenders on transactions in the EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region.  

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Naoki Kinami is known for his “hands-on approach to transactions” and is recognised for the “clear and concise counsel” that he provides to global financial institutions.

Sullivan & Cromwell’s co-managing partner Keiji Hatano is “a top-tier practitioner” whose dual knowledge of both Japanese and US banking law makes him an asset to global clients.

Gavin Raftery* heads Baker & McKenzie’s global acquisition finance practice. He is an “exceedingly effective communicator” and “can always be counted on to deliver exactly what the client wants”.

Ashurst’s Asia managing partner Matthew Bubb* is noted for his acquisition and structured finance 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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