Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Mayer Brown has recruited two Japan-focused partners in the United States as the Chicago-based firm continues to bolster its Japan offering.

Partners Satoru Murase and Yoshihide Ito, who jumped from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, will be based in New York and Washington, D.C., respectively. Their arrival follows the recent opening and expansion of Mayer Brown’s Tokyo office with a trio from Ashurst, including former Tokyo office head Rupert Burrows.

Both Murase and Ito joined Morgan Lewis from the legacy Bingham McCutchen in November 2014, as did about 750 lawyers and staffers. While the bulk of the legacy Boston firm went to Morgan Lewis, most of its Tokyo office—its largest Asian office, with about 80 lawyers—did not. Bingham McCutchen had entered the Japanese market through a merger in 2007 with local firm Sakai & Mimura, and more than half of the office, including former Tokyo office managing partner Hideyuki Sakai, went to the Big Four Japanese firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune instead. Morgan Lewis has had a joint venture with the Japanese firm TMI Associates since 2005.

Murase specializes in cross-border investments and disputes around the world, with a focus on Japan. He advises corporations, financial institutions, funds and governmental entities, including the Japanese government, on global investment, government relations and regulatory matters. He is the son of the late Jiro Murase, a longtime partner with Bingham McCutchen, which he joined via the merger of his New York-based firm, Marks & Murase, and the former Bingham Dana & Gould in 1997.

Trade lawyer Ito focuses his practice on international trade policy, economic trade sanctions, trade disputes and regulation—especially involving the United States and Japan. His practice covers export and import matters, economic sanctions and embargoes, international competition regulations and related issues.

Before moving into private practice, Ito served in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as deputy director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and cultural affairs divisions. Earlier in his career at the Foreign Ministry, he served as an aide to the Japanese ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C.