Japan 2018: Leading Firms

The latest edition of WWL: Japan features a total of 89 firms including international outfits, full-service Japanese firms and specialised boutiques. However, almost half of the total listings are achieved by six standout firms, including the Japanese “Big Four”. We profile the leading firms here.


Total number of listings: 46

Full-service national firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune enjoys a leading position in the Japanese market. Its prominence is reflected in our research this year, as it achieves the highest number of listings out of all the firms featured in this edition. The firm receives 46 nominations across 19 practice areas, showcasing the great breadth of expertise on offer to both domestic and international clients.

The firm is renowned for its market-leading corporate practice, boasting the foremost practice group in our M&A and governance chapter this year. The team is well versed in handling the full gamut of related matters from cross-border transactions and joint ventures to governance issues and shareholder disputes.

Antitrust is another field in which the firm excels, and demonstrates its strong expertise in our research this year by achieving seven listings. Practitioners are highlighted for their excellence in merger control, cartels, unilateral conduct, and compliance matters. Anderson Mori’s strong sectoral focus is also reflected in this edition, with practitioners receiving nominations for their excellent work in the fields of data, construction and real estate, and banking.   

Outstanding individuals at the firm include Yusuke Nakano and Etsuko Hara, who are recognised as the foremost competition lawyers in the country. Hiroki Kodate wins high praise for his top-tier corporate practice while Yasufumi Shiroyama is a leading name in the Japanese IP space. Yoshimasa Furuta is the most prominent litigator in our research this year and is also highly regarded in the arbitration arena.

Total number of listings: 26

Full-service Japanese firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto boasts a prominent presence in the domestic market as well as a network of offices spanning key Asian corporate and financial hubs. The firm has four offices in Japan – Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. The largest of these is Tokyo, where it achieves all of its 26 listings across 10 practice areas in this year’s research. The firm demonstrates its strength as a leading commercial firm and ranks prominently in the top tier of Japanese firms.

It is home to one of the leading finance practices in Japan, where its first-rate banking and capital markets lawyers achieve three listings in each chapter. It also performs well in relation to real estate financing matters and achieves four listings in our corresponding chapter.

The Japanese market is extremely active for corporate transactions, and the firm is well equipped to handle complex cross-border M&A matters. With five lawyers featured in this year’s research, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto stands out as one of the top corporate firms in Japan. The competition practice group also performs well achieving four listings for its strong expertise handling an array of matters from merger control to regulatory investigations.

Standout individuals at the firm include Gaku Ishiwata, who is recognised as a distinguished M&A lawyer, and Katsumasa Suzuki, a leading name for sophisticated capital markets advice. Meanwhile Toru Ishiguro wins praise as a top banking expert. Eriko Ozawa is a highly regarded expert in real estate investment and financing matters, while Yoshifumi Onodera is a prominent figure in the data market.

Total Number of Listings: 15

Morrison & Foerster enjoys a strong reputation as a top firm in the Japanese market, with sources giving its practitioners high praise in our research this year. The US-based outfit demonstrates its firm foothold in the jurisdiction, with 15 of its practitioners listed in this year’s guide.

Construction and real estate continues to be a strong field for the firm, with four of its lawyers listed in our corresponding chapter this year. They come highly recommended for their first-rate work handling a wide array of related matters from projects to financings and transactions. The firm also achieves multiple listings this year across our competition, energy and natural resources and M&A and governance chapters, showcasing the breadth of expertise on offer.

Key individuals at the firm include Masahiro Shiga who stands out as one of the foremost construction and real estate practitioners in the country. Kei Amemiya is recognised this year for his outstanding work in the competition space while Kenneth Siegel and Gary Mitchel Smith draw high praise from market sources for their impressive work in the corporate sphere.

Total number of listings: 37

Big Four Japanese law firm Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu stands out as one of the leading legal service providers in Japan. Founded in 2000 following the merger of domestic outfits Nagashima & Ohno and Tsunematsu Yanase & Sekine, the firm draws on 88 years of combined experience to advise some of the biggest names in the international business community. This year it receives 37 nominations across 16 practice areas, highlighting the depth of expertise on offer.

The firm continues to stand out in the corporate finance arena, achieving an impressive five listings in our M&A and governance chapter, and six in the area of capital markets. Its lawyers are well versed in handling a wide array of corporate matters for both domestic and international clients including transactions, contract negotiations, governance as well as day-to-day issues.

It also boasts strong sectoral expertise performing well in the construction and real estate space, in which four top-tier practitioners are recommended, as well as in the life sciences arena.

Standout names at the firm include Masatsura Kadota, who is internationally recognised for his strong track record in insurance and reinsurance, and Mitsuo Matsushita who stands out in the trade and customs space. Other prominent names at the firm include Hisaya Kimura, a dispute resolution specialist who ranks prominently in our litigation and competition chapters, and Satoshi Inoue, who wins praise for his first-class banking practice.

Total number of listings: 38

Nishimura & Asahi is a prominent full-service law firm that achieves 38 listings across 16 practice areas in our research this year. As one of Japan’s largest law firms with an envious presence domestically and internationally, it is highly regarded as a strong player in the national market.

The firm boasts a strong corporate offering achieving five listings in our M&A and governance chapter this year. The team is well equipped to handle a range of corporate matters including joint ventures, governance issues and finance regulatory matters.

It also stands out for its strong disputes practice receiving four and two nominations in our arbitration and litigation chapters respectively. Competition law is another area in which the firm excels, with five lawyers recognised this year for their excellent work in the field.

Leading figures at the firm include Asa Shinkawa, a top name in the M&A and corporate governance space and Kozo Kawai, who gains recognition in the competition, trade and customs and government contracts arenas. Hideki Matsushima is another key name at the firm, well known for his work in the restructuring and insolvency field.

Total number of listings: 18

TMI Associates continues to distinguish itself as a market-leading outfit in the Japanese market. The firm demonstrates its top-tier offering in our research this year, achieving 18 nominations across nine practice areas.

Intellectual property is an area in which the firm truly excels, achieving seven listings across our corresponding chapters. The group is well versed in handling a wide array of related matters including patent infringement, copyright, trademarks and IP rights. The firm also boasts a strong corporate practice, with four lawyers recognised in this edition for their leading M&A and governance work.

Key individuals at the firm include Mitsuko "Mimi" Miyagawa who stands out as one of the most prominent IP lawyers in the country. Satoru Nagasaka wins praise for his excellent work across the life sciences and IP arenas while Harumichi Uchida is a well-recognised name in the corporate and antitrust space.

Back to top

Follow us on LinkedIn

News & Features

Community News



Pro Bono

Corporate Counsel

Women in Law

Future Leaders

Research Reports

Practice Areas


The Who's Who Legal 100


Special Reports



About Us

Research Schedule

It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication

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.

Copyright © 2019 Law Business Research Ltd. All rights reserved. | http://www.lbresearch.com

87 Lancaster Road, London, W11 1QQ, UK | Tel: +44 20 7908 1180 / Fax: +44 207 229 6910

http://www.whoswholegal.com | editorial@whoswholegal.com

Law Business Research Ltd

87 Lancaster Road, London
W11 1QQ, UK