Yoshio Shimoda has been practising Japanese immigration law since 1994. He has established himself as the most reliable immigration lawyer in Japan. He is recognised by the community of international firms, as the “go-to guy” for all of their immigration needs. His client list includes the major international firms operating in the country, including banks, automotive, IT, oil and pharmaceutical firms. He joined IBA in 2003, as the first Japanese immigration lawyer to take a seat on the committee. He has been a regular speaker since 2002 at international conferences including IBA and AILA.
What do clients look for in an effective immigration lawyer?
Reliability, experience and knowledge.
How has technology shaped the field of immigration law since you started practising?
When I started my practice in the early 90s, there were no other immigration lawyers in Japan utilising a computer for practice as far as I know. I designed a client database on a PC before the era of MS Windows and provided comprehensive legal services for international corporate clients, as the first law firm in Japan to do so. It seems all law firms nowadays use IT technology effectively for their practice. I have seen significant developments in PC and internet communication technology since then.
On what matters have clients most frequently asked you for advice over the past year? What would you say is driving this?
Among the common work permit cases, what has been notable is the increasing number of requests for advice on cases regarding children from advanced reproductive medicine. This is obviously due to Japan’s conservative attitude towards these trends.
What would you say are currently the greatest challenges for corporate clients trying to navigate the Japanese immigration system and how do you ensure you are prepared to help tackle them?
It, of course, is covid-19. As of September 2020, Japan is restricting entry from 159 countries/areas. Our clients outside Japan with some exceptions are not able to enter Japan even after the MOJ grants a Certificate of Eligibility. Japan lifted the ban for the re-entry of foreign residents from the restricted countries from 1 September. We are working to assist our clients who are stuck outside or inside Japan under the current very fluid situation by continuous information gathering and communication with authorities.
What major legal developments affecting corporate immigration are you anticipating over the next year, and how might they impact client demands and priorities?
There were expected to be some legal developments in the area of Specified Skilled Worker status and Highly Skilled Professional status. However, under the emergency of covid-19 and after, I expect a comprehensive reform of the immigration legal system including IT development will be expedited as a result of the current situation, which would affect our clients in every aspect.
How does your activity in the IBA enhance the skills, values and approach you bring to your private practice?
It is essential to have a source of information and a network of top-level lawyers all over the world for a legal practitioner who works on international legal matters. The IBA gives me an excellent opportunity to broaden my legal activities.
What skills and values would you encourage in the next generation of corporate immigration lawyers?
Communication skills, not only language ability but the capability of understanding the thoughts and situation of clients from around the world with different cultures, customs and business styles, to provide an appropriate legal solution for them.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I receive the best pieces of advice from great regrets. I learn from an experience whenever I recognise there may have been a better solution for my client.
Yoshio Shimoda is often called upon to deploy his broad experience of Japanese immigration on behalf of a wide-ranging clientele.
Mr Yoshio Shimoda began practising as a licensed immigration lawyer in 1994.
He is the founder of ILS Shimoda Office. The firm, which specialises in the immigration law of Japan, has handled over 50,000 cases of corporate and personal immigration-related applications in Japan since its establishment in 1997. ILS Shimoda Office represents many of the world's largest multinational companies in a wide variety of industries, including banking, software and IT, pharmaceuticals, automotive and manufacturing, among others, and is recognised as one of the most experienced firms for corporate immigration in Japan.
Mr Shimoda joined the International Bar Association in 2003 as the first Japanese immigration lawyer to be granted a seat on the immigration and nationality law committee. He has been a regular speaker since 2002 at international conferences including the IBA and AILA.
He is currently practising immigration law at his personal law office, Immigration Lawyer Shimoda Office, to provide a more concentrated and personalised legal service to the clients of world’s top leaders and executives.