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Japan: Transport 2016

Japan’s shipping industry has witnessed multiple exits from the market over the past year, as cargo activity has slowed down amid the decline in the Chinese economy. The country’s aviation market, on the other hand, has experienced a year of innovation. In November 2015 the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Japan’s first ever domestic passenger jet, successfully embarked on a maiden test flight. This development comes as part of a programme designed to challenge major players in the aviation world and cultivate the domestic industry. This breakthrough looks set to spark a flurry of activity in the space, with lawyers forecasting a busy year ahead. 19 lawyers are recognised for their leading work in the field. 

White & Case demonstrates its strong finance offering in the field as two leading lawyers achieve nominations. Simon Collins* gains recognition for his “tremendous understanding of cross-border financial transactions” relating to the aviation and maritime sectors. He is joined by the “brilliant” Chiho Saito, who is active in handling some of the offices most significant aviation finance mandates. 

Takahiro Kawaguchi is one of two lawyers at K&L Gates who garners inclusion. He wins praise for the “innovative and insightful counsel” that he delivers to Japanese aircraft and shipping companies on asset finance matters. Robert Melson* is highly regarded for his “world-class aviation practice” that covers aircraft and equipment leasing, as well as equipment finance.

At Nishimura & Asahi, Katsu Sengoku is an “excellent lawyer” who is recommended by clients for his “strong commercial acumen” shown in asset and structure finance transactions in the aviation sector. Kentaro Miyagi is described as “a trusted adviser”, known for his “adept handling” of aircraft sale and leasing matters.

Yoshida & Partners also achieves two nominations for its shipping practice. Tetsuro Nakamura is described by peers as “an outstanding shipping lawyer”. He is “exceptionally well versed” in wet matters such as wreck removal, heavy cargo claims and serious incidents of casualty cases. He is joined by the “internationally renowned” Sotaro Mori who is considered “a seasoned expert” when it comes to dry matters, and regularly acts as an expert witness in international shipping arbitrations. 

Okabe & Yamaguchi is represented by the “sensational” Shuji Yamaguchi. Cargo claims, maritime insurance and charterparty disputes are just some of the areas covered by his “top-tier practice”. Fellow named partner Hiroki Okabe is known for his particular expertise dealing with casualty claims concerning collisions, salvage and wreck removal. He is considered a “responsive and quick-thinking individual” by clients, who include underwriters, salvors and P&I clubs.

Tomohiko Kamimura at Squire Patton Boggs is a well-thought-of aviation practitioner. Clients praise him for his “keen attention to detail” and “technical excellence”. The “first-rate” Hisao Hirose is recognised for his extensive experience handling aircraft finance transactions including both Japanese leveraged and operating leases.

Clifford Chance’s Hidehiko Suzuki is a “major player” in the Japanese legal market, known particularly for dealing with the financing and operation of aircraft leases.

Taka Matsui at Max Law Office is a “gifted maritime lawyer” who, according to one source, is “head and shoulders above the rest” when it comes to shipping matters such as cargo defence, collisions and ship mortgage enforcement.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is represented by the “superb” Atsushi Yamashita who is commended for his “expert handling of contentious aviation cases”.

At his own firm, Makoto Hiratsuka boasts a “market leading shipping practice” and is noted for his “diligent and professional manner”.

Keiji Isaji at Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office is a “heavyweight litigator” and regularly focuses on matters regarding aircraft accidents. He is said to deliver work “of the highest quality”.

At Hayashida Sogo Law Offices, the “excellent” Kenichiro Hayashida is widely respected for the “creative and innovative advice” that he delivers to clients in relation to contentious aviation matters.

Abe & Sakata’s Akiyoshi Ikeyama is a “top-notch” shipping lawyer, whose “intricate knowledge of Japanese maritime law” makes him a firm favourite among several respondents.


* 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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