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Japan: Litigation 2016

Litigation is the most commonly used form of dispute resolution to settle large commercial disputes in Japan. The judiciary has a reputation globally for being honest, efficient and cost-effective. Cases are typically decided quickly, with an average 56 per cent of all cases being decided within six months. Civil cases are decided on average within nine months and patent cases are decided on average within 17 months. However in terms of the remedies available in Japan, damages are usually lower than, for example, the US and injunctions are more likely to be granted. We highlight 17 leading litigators in this chapter.  

Two firms have an impressive three individuals listed. Anderson Mori & Tomotsune is home to the “brilliant” Yoshimasa Furuta who specialises in international and domestic litigation. He has acquired a “reputation for success” having representing Japanese and foreign companies in a wide variety of business disputes, including those relating to the sale of goods, technology licensing, and intellectual property infringement, among others. Alongside him Kenichi Sadaka is described as “exceptional across the board”. He acts for major domestic and foreign clients who praise his “quick thinking” and “ability to get to the heart of a matter”. They are joined by Hiroki Wakabayashi, a “brilliant advocate and fine strategist”. He focuses his “exceptional practice” on representing financial institutions, audit corporations and business corporations in transaction, professional responsibility and labour disputes.

Nishimura & Asahi boasts Akihiro Hironaka, an “internationally renowned and universally respected lawyer”. His practice comprises handling numerous large-scale and complex disputes of a domestic and cross-border nature, and he is particularly praised for his successful representation of clients in multiple large-scale lawsuits. Hiroyuki Tezuka has a “fantastically sharp mind and is extremely effective”. He has specific expertise relating to tax litigation and has been involved in some recent high profile tax disputes. Alongside them, Masakazu Iwakura impresses with his “extensive knowledge base” and “ability to handle complex issues”.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Kazuki Okada is held in high regard for being “extremely thorough and not missing a thing”.  With a “strong domestic litigation practice” he also handles a wide range of disputes between international companies. He is joined by Naoki Kinami who is known to be a “splendid professional”. With particular expertise relating to the finance industry, clients recommended him for his “straight talking” and ability to “get the job done”.

From Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners Tadashi Ishikawa is praised among peers for his “meticulously crafted work”. With a broad international dispute resolution practice, he receives praise for being “an impressively diligent professional”. Alongside him Sanae Okada is “highly sought after” by clients and regarded as “one of the most knowledgeable and experienced litigators in Japan”.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is home to the “fantastic” Masahiro Matsuoka, who focuses his practice on civil and commercial disputes. He is widely acclaimed for his “skill and dedication” which makes him a “pleasure to work with”. Hisaya Kimura joins him and is commended for “always giving 110 per cent”. His commercial litigation practice concentrates principally on product liability, environmental torts and M&A disputes, among other areas, with clients also praising his “impressively strong analytical skills”.

Nobuo Miyake at Miyake & Yamazaki is known for offering “a first-rate service” based on “a wealth of knowledge and experience”. Clients praise his “savvy approach” and “consistently dependable advice”.

From Jones Day, Takashi Tanazawa has “extensive experience” handling domestic and international litigation with a focus on product liability, contract disputes and labour matters. Clients are particularly impressed by his “high level of customer service” and describe him as a “great operator”.

Isomi Suzuki from Koga & Partners has an “enviable practice” in both domestic and international litigation built on a “strong foundation of broad experience”. He is described by clients as “always available, always responsive and very effective”.

At Herbert Smith Freehills Peter Godwin* is considered a “sensational” practitioner who “commands great respect worldwide”. He leads the firm’s regional dispute resolution practice in Asia, and has experience handling complex contentious matters relating to the construction, energy, employment, international trade, and banking sectors, among others.

Tasuku Matsuo from Matsuo & Kosugi brings five decades of professional experience to his litigation matters. He is described by clients as “formidably intelligent and skilful”, and they would “thoroughly recommend him without a second thought”.


* 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