Akihiro Hironaka stands out as a prominent litigator who is highly sought after for his product liability expertise.
Akihiro Hironaka has been a partner in the dispute resolution group at Nishimura & Asahi, the largest law firm in Japan, since 2007. He has extensive experience dealing with various large-scale and complex dispute resolution matters. In one notable case, he successfully defended a Japanese trading company against six large vicarious liability lawsuits, with total claims of 48.3 billion yen, filed in Japan by claimants that included an affiliate of a US-headquartered investment bank and a US hedge fund. He also represented Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance in contesting a tax assessment related to complex cross-border reinsurance transactions involving the transfer of earthquake-related risks, and successfully recovered 6.7 billion yen on the client’s behalf. He also recovered 8 billion yen for Sumitomo Trust & Banking Corporation in an action challenging a tax assessment regarding cross-border securities repurchase transactions.
Mr Hironaka has represented and advised major corporations, and has achieved significant results in large-scale international arbitrations, including emergency arbitration proceedings, in Japan and abroad, under the rules of ICC, SIAC, AAA-ICDR and JCAA. He handles complex, large-scale product liability and mass tort claims, as well as contract-based disputes, for clients in the pharmaceutical, automotive and other industries, and also handles cross-border disputes arising from M&A transactions, reinsurance claims and construction disputes at foreign construction sites in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
In addition to extensive experience with legal proceedings in Japan, he has advised and represented clients in connection with US discovery proceedings; Japanese judicial assistance for foreign court proceedings; Japanese legal issues arising from foreign court proceedings and arbitrations; and civil actions (including class actions) in the USA.
Mr Hironaka is a graduate of the University of Tokyo (LLB, 1993) and Harvard Law School (LLM, 2003), and is admitted to the bars of Japan and New York. He served as a Japanese district court judge from 1998 until 2000. He is the author of various books, chapters and articles in the areas of litigation, product liability, international arbitration and tax controversies. His publications include a contribution to Civil Procedure in Japan (Juris Publishing; edited by Yasuhei Taniguchi et al), as well as the Japan chapters of The Product Regulation and Liability Review and GAR Know-How: Litigation (Law Business Research).
The 2020 edition of WWL says: “Peers say [Akihiro Hironaka] is ‘extremely strategic and an expert at leading a large team,’ adding: ‘There is no one else on his level.’” The 2016 edition described him as an “internationally renowned and universally respected lawyer”, and the 2015 edition called him an “experienced litigator who ‘is one of the first names that come to mind for high-stake lawsuits’”.
In 2020, Global Arbitration Review’s GAR 100 said he “impressed with his calm and his tolerance for clients’ queries”, and Asian Legal Business described him as “one of the firm’s many ‘go-to’ partners to perform strongly.”
In 2015 and 2016, Mr Hironaka was named Disputes Star of the Year at the Asialaw Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Awards. He has been named a tax controversy leader for Japan in every edition of the International Tax Review. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.