Dispute resolution
Abe Ikubo & Katayama

Top-tier intellectual property specialist firm Abe Ikubo & Katayama is especially known for its life sciences and pharmaceutical expertise. The firm also has considerable experience in the electronic and telecommunications fields. Its litigation team is active in representing both local and foreign companies in all kinds of IP infringement disputes.

Managing partner Eiji Katayama is one of the most respected patent litigators in Japan. Hiroshi Kobayashi, Mami Hino and Junichi Kitahara are other key practitioners to note at the firm with outstanding capability in the fields of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, technology and telecommunications and machinery.

Details of all cases the firm worked on during the research period remain confidential.

The firm has recently strengthened the trademark team to provide extensive services available to its clients with the addition of a new partner, Takako Okada. It also opened a new office in Fukuoka in March 2022.

Client feedback

“Well experienced in patent trials and litigations. Meets client's needs with flexibility.” – Intellectual property

Mami Hino

“She has great knowledge and skills in patent disputes, especially in the pharmaceutical field. She is passionate to meet clients’ needs and she is a flexible thinker.”

Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

Full service law firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune offers a range of dispute resolution services covering both domestic and international disputes. The firm is particularly active in commercial disputes including arbitration, contractual and data privacy disputes.  

The dispute resolution team is co-led by Hiroki Wakabayash and Yoshimasa Furuta. Wakabayash is particularly active representing financial institutions and major corporations on commercial and labour disputes. Furuta has extensive experience in cross-border disputes including international arbitration. Yoshikazu Iwase and Yasufumi Shiroyama are key IP litigators at the firm.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Formidable dispute resolution powerhouse Herbert Smith Freehills specialises in acting for Japanese blue-chip companie, pharmaceutical giants, and technology and energy companies before various institutions including ICC and Japan Commercial Arbitration Association (JCAA). With a vast practice, it acts on most complex and high-profile commercial and regulatory matters across the region. The firm is also frequently involved in anti-corruption and fraud investigations.

David Gilmore is the managing partner at its Tokyo office as well as head of the dispute resolution team. Gilmore has over 20 years of experience in international commercial disputes and is also active in regulatory investigations. Other key figures for international arbitration include Elaine Wong and Emma Kratochvilova.

Work highlights include representing a major Japanese pharmaceutical company in JCAA arbitration proceedings for claims of breach of representation and warranty under a share purchase agreement arising out of the sale of a pharmaceutical company; advising an automotive manufacturer on a potential dispute with an Indonesian entity that has not been complying with obligations, owing to the substantial decrease in the demand for vehicles supply under the supply agreement; and advising a Japanese energy company on an arbitration arising under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

The details of the remaining clients the firm has worked with remain confidential.

In May 2022, partner Craig Shepherd relocated to Kuala Lumpur, and James Allsop got promoted to partner.

K&L Gates

K&L’s practice in Japan provides a comprehensive and diverse array of litigation services that ranges from commercial litigation and employment arbitrations to civil and criminal litigation. The team has a track record of representing foreign and domestic Japanese corporations and conglomerates in complex commercial and employment disputes. Its litigators routinely handle high-stakes disputes for clients that operate across the telecommunications, aviation, life sciences, manufacturing, financial services and transportation industries.

The dispute team in Japan is led by partner Takahiro Hoshino, a former judge, who has in-depth experience in judicial thought processes that impact judgments.

Details of the cases the firm submitted are highly confidential but it can be seen that the firm has been busy handling requests from clients for advice on various types of newly enacted legislation with regard to Covid-19 that are aimed at creating a more flexible, fair and efficient working environment, ensuring employees can remain safe and healthy and attempting to change the business environment in Japan.

Nobuki Wada

“Deep understanding of the client's work rules and situation, providing great solution to labour-related issues.”

King & Spalding

Best known for global outbound disputes, King & Spalding offers genuine expertise in both English and commonwealth law and US law disputes for its Japanese clients. The firm is especially renowned for its strength in international arbitrations and cross-border disputes in the energy, construction and automotive sectors. Clients often appreciate its sharp strategy and strong grasp of market conditions.

Christopher Bailey is one of the leading litigators in the market who leads the firm’s global disputes practice in Tokyo. He is valued for his expertise in regulatory, construction and energy matters.

Mayer Brown

Global ‘white-shoe’ law firm Mayer Brown opened its office in Tokyo in 2018 at the request of its Japanese clients. Its Japan practice regularly acts as international counsel on Japan-related transactions, sometimes working in collaboration with Japanese law firms. Among its Japan-based clients are financial institutions, insurance companies, shipping and freight transportation companies, steel manufacturers and utility companies, as well as multinational conglomerates involved in trading, energy, mining, information technology, transportation and other infrastructure, life sciences and real estate. Rupert Burrows is the managing partner of the firm's Tokyo office.

The details of all cases the firm has worked on during the research period are confidential.

Client feedback

“Mayer Brown did well on advising legal interpretation/analysis of insurance claim by applying the facts in the construction.” – Construction

Rupert Burrows

“Good communications skills.”

Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

One among Japan’s ‘Big Four’ law firms, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto’s dispute resolution team boasts 45 partners and over 50 other qualified attorneys. The team is experienced in handling the full range of domestic and cross-border disputes, notably active in corporate, employment and real estate disputes. The firm has a strong presence in East Asia with offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Bangkok, Yangon and Jakarta.

Mugi Sekido and Kana Manabe are key figures in the team. Sekido is highly respected for his commercial litigation expertise. Yutaka Miyoshi is a notable IP litigator.

In one work highlight during the research period, the firm represented Japan Post in defence of claims brought under the Labour Contract Act by a high number of fixed-term employees over differences between the terms and conditions of their employment contracts and those of employees employed permanently. This case is being widely covered by the media because of the similarity of the plaintiffs’ arguments to the new policy of ‘equal pay for equal work’ that the Japanese government has introduced.

In another case, the firm represented Toshiba in defence of claims brought by former or current shareholders in tort alleging ‘improper’ disclosure of financial information by Toshiba in past years. The shareholders assert that they would not have purchased Toshiba’s shares had they known about alleged accounting irregularities or that the share price of Toshiba was illegally inflated by the alleged accounting irregularities.

In the white-collar crime space, the firm is representing Japan Display (JDI) in an investigation following the confession of an ex-employee claiming his involvement in accounting fraud for more than five years. The firm’s partner, Yasuhiko Fujitsu, was appointed as the chair of the special investigation committee in support of the investigation. The team acted for JDI to facilitate the investigation and address regulatory issues including the administrative inspection by the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission and the disciplinary action by Japan Exchange Regulation. This case is one of the biggest accounting scandals in Japan in the past decade. The amount of the administrative monetary penalty imposed on JDI is the third largest in Japanese history.

Coincheck, EduLab, Kansai Electric Power, Kansai Super Market and Kawasaki Heavy Industries worked with the firm in the past 12 months.

Client feedback

“Mori Hamada & Matsumoto works particularly swiftly and diligently. In addition, this law firm is highly competent and the respective lawyers are polite and friendly.” – Product liability and recall

“Their legal advice is always timely, accurate and business-oriented. Also, I have the impression that not only the partners but also the associates of MHM (Mori Hamada & Matsumoto) have a truly deep understanding of our companies and our businesses. Their advice is always practical from a real business standpoint. They have outstanding writing skills, and the speed necessary to run alongside the business.” – Product liability and recall

Mugi Sekido

“Mugi Sekido is particularly polite, friendly and attentive. He is always well prepared and aims to find the best possible solution for the client.”

“With high-level language skills, deep understanding, and extensive experiences in handling international conflict for many Japanese clients, he conveys our messages to US attorneys quite accurately and ‘digests’ their complicated legal language into simplified terms for our easy understanding.”

Morrison Foerster

Morrison & Foerster has the largest dispute resolution team in Japan among international firms with over 30 dedicated litigators on the ground. The firm is particularly strong in intellectual property and commercial disputes, including international arbitration, construction and consumer class action disputes. It also has internal investigation expertise covering product mislabelling, construction defects and white-collar crime.

One of the firm’s key individuals is Louise Stoupe, who has particular strength in international arbitration and litigation. She is known to represent some of the biggest technology companies in the world in their complex commercial disputes. Robert Hollingshead and Max Olson are well-known IP practitioners. Other names to note include Chie Yakura and Yukihiro Terazawa.

Among the IP disputes, the team, led by partner Olson, settled a patent infringement action that the team had filed for JOLED against Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas. The five patents in suit covered fundamental OLED display technology and the accused products included Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

In an ongoing IP matter, the team is representing Socionext and Socionext America in an International Trade Commission investigation that involves alleged infringement of a patent asserted by Bell Semiconductor against over 20 respondents including Socionext. The firm is also defending Socionext America in a related patent infringement action pending in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Key clients of the firm include Cadence Design Systems, Chugai Pharmaceutical, Denso Ten, Fujitsu America, Fujitsu Client Computing and Fujitsu Semiconductor.

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is widely renowned for its expertise in handling complex cross-jurisdictional disputes. The highly skilled litigation team has a wealth of experience in handling antitrust, general commercial, employment, intellectual property, product liability and consumer affairs disputes. The firm is singled out for its expertise in international arbitration.

Norimitsu Arai and Hisaya Kimura are key commercial disputes lawyers in the team, while Yoshimi Ohara is recommended for her work in international arbitration.

During the research period, the firm advised Central Japan Railway in an administrative lawsuit against the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, seeking the revocation of the approval disposition.

In one of the most significant and high-profile lawsuits in Japanese history, the firm is representing the directors of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in defending a derivative lawsuit filed by TEPCO’s shareholders claiming compensation in the amount of $164 billion. The claim is for damage allegedly caused by the directors’ failure to foresee a disastrous tsunami arising from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant incident that took place in March 2022, and to take appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence. The court is expected to determine whether the electric power company’s directors should be held liable for one of the most serious incidents in Japanese history. The developments in the lawsuit have attracted extensive media coverage.

The firm also had a busy year acting for clients in various international arbitration cases seated across the world. Recent cases involved disputes arising out of construction, joint venture and investment treaty arbitration.

The firm has solid experience managing multi-jurisdictional disputes with overseas offices in New York, Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Notable litigation clients include Kajima Corporation and KOYO Automatic Machine.

Client feedback

“They work well, as if they are internal counsel, to review various documents and coordinate legal work with US lawyers.” – Government and regulatory

“They give clear and adequate guidance updating the situation from time to time, which enables us to understand precisely and to proceed.” – International arbitration

Yoshima Ohara

“I think she is one of the Japanese lawyers who was deeply involved in the actual international arbitration proceedings in her capacity as advisor, president or otherwise. Such vast experience contributed to the decisions of the claimant.”

Nishimura & Asahi

Nishimura & Asahi offers unparalleled strength in diverse dispute resolution areas including financial disputes, general commercial and product liability. The firm often receives instructions from domestic and foreign corporations in the automotive, pharmaceuticals, insurance, financial institutions and electronics sectors. In particular, the firm is a front-runner in international arbitration with a practice led by Hiroyuki Tezuka and Akihiro Hironaka. Yutaro Kawabata and Lars Markert are also noteworthy international arbitration practitioners.

In commercial and transactions, the firm successfully defended a German automotive supplier from claims by a Japanese automotive supplier in a large product liability action before the Yokohama District Court and Tokyo High Court. Apart from complex technical issues, the dispute raises difficult questions of international jurisdiction and service of process, considering a multi-layered supply chain in Europe, as well as independent evidentiary proceedings in German courts against the client and separate arbitration proceedings brought against a second defendant. The Yokohama District Court and the Tokyo High Court ruled in favour of the firm’s client, dismissing the claim for lack of Japanese jurisdiction.

The rest of the cases handled during the research period are confidential.

The firm is branching out into Singaporean and Indonesian arbitration with a strong construction angle, driven by its Singapore office partner Shintaro Uno.

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners

Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners is the largest law firm in Osaka and offers a broad range of dispute resolution services covering corporation litigation, consumer protection and product liability, antitrust, and intellectual property disputes and international arbitration. 

Commercial disputes lawyer Shiro Kuniya, competition and antitrust specialist Tetsuya Nagasawa and IP litigator Takamitsu Shigetomi are key figures of the team.

O'Melveny & Myers

O’Melveny & Myers is active in both domestic and international litigation and arbitration as well as criminal investigations. With 15 years’ practice experience in the country, the firm has a solid track record before the Supreme Court of Japan, including in mass consumer litigation, banking and commercial disputes as well as IP-related disputes.

Yoji Maeda is a key partner at the firm with broad experience across commercial litigation and employment matters. Counsel Hiroko Nihei is another lawyer to note, who has a particular focus on international commercial arbitration and contentious IP cases.

All cases the firm has worked on during the research period are highly confidential.

TMI Associates

Since its founding in 1990, TMI Associates has built a reputation in dispute resolution particularly in matters related to IP. Clients seek the firm for its service in infringement lawsuits, invalidation trials, the appeals processes, import suspensions and temporary injunctive relief. Sector expertise includes machinery, semiconductors, biotechnology, medicine, communication and technology.   

Among its 50 IP attorneys, Mitsuko Miyagawa stands out for her work in trade mark and copyright litigation. Additionally, Mitsue Aizawa is a key individual for commercial disputes.  

Yuasa and Hara

One of the oldest law firms in Japan, Yuasa & Hara specialises in patent and trade mark litigation. Nearly 50 patent attorneys assist clients in the chemical, mechanical and electronics sectors. Kozo Yabe is singled out as a key contact. 

The firm’s cross border disputes work is facilitated by its membership in Terralex, an international law firm network with 140 members across 100 countries. The firm is also a member of Unilaw, an international law firm network with an active presence in Europe.