The corporate tax rate in Japan stands at 36 per cent and is one of the highest in the world; it is a constant focus of criticism by economists and corporations looking to invest and expand in the country. Currently only three out of 10 Japanese companies pay the rate, so the tax commission advising the prime minister is looking to lower corporation tax while increasing the number paying it. Imminent reform means the legal market is likely to be very active in the near future. This year we have identified 13 leading lawyers in the market.
As Japan faces the prospect of a declining and aging population, many companies are starting to look abroad to source workers. With some estimates suggesting that by 2060 the population will have dropped by a third and 40 per cent will be retired, replacement migration seems to some to be the obvious solution. However, with Japanese opinion and legislation still largely against mass immigration, lawyers in this field are finding meeting employer needs and balancing these with immigration policy more and more difficult. Four “exceptional” practitioners are included in this chapter.
Following a number of high-profile scandals, Japan is in the process of implementing its first corporate governance code. The code is set to bring about stronger oversight of executives by requiring independent board directors, which will mark a large adjustment for many companies who currently have none. As companies look to comply with the new requirements, lawyers in this field can expect to be very active in the year ahead. We identify nine leading practitioners.
Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan is seeking to relax laws against foreign blue-collar construction workers to tackle its labour shortage. With a predicted development expenditure of almost US$8.5 billion on stadiums, critics have highlighted the tsunami-ravaged north-east coast where reconstruction has still barely begun. Real estate prices have increased, interest rates have gone up and construction costs have increased, resulting in poor profit margins, but with the world watching ever more closely as the Olympics draws nearer, Japan is becoming an exciting place for foreign investment. We list 19 professionals recognised for their work within the construction and real estate field.
Japan has a strong preference for out-of-court dispute resolution and arbitration remains the method of choice for many. That said, the increased use of the mediation process in sectors such as construction and intellectual property suggest that this is a growing area.
Japan is moving ever closer to the introduction of a US-style class action system following calls for some method of collective action in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In April 2013 the Japanese cabinet approved a new bill recognising a civil procedure for collective recovery of consumers’ damages. With the bill now submitted to the House of Representatives, practitioners will be watching this latest development with interest. In this premier edition, we recognise 17 leading litigators.
There are encouraging signs of growth for capital markets lawyers as they advise Japanese investors on domestic opportunities and international financial markets. Japan has played a more prominent role in the recovery of capital markets over the past year and, while G4 bonds are expected to offer low returns for a sustained period, there is optimism among lawyers for increased work in equity capital markets as corporate profits drive stock market activity. We recognise 21 leading practitioners in this section.
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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.