Nishimura & Asahi, Japan’s largest domestic firm by lawyer head count, will enter the United States with an office in New York—its 13th office globally.
The New York office will open this fall and provide legal services that address all aspects of Japanese law, focusing on large, complex cross-border matters, regulatory investigations and disputes. The firm said the new office will enable closer collaboration, faster response time and efficient services for its existing Japanese clients.
The New York office will have nine lawyers, including senior corporate partner Katsuyuki Yamaguchi, who will head the office, and corporate partners Megumi Shimizu and Stephen Bohrer. All the lawyers will relocate to New York from Nishimura’s existing offices.
Yamaguchi is a Nishimura lifer, having joined the firm in 1991. Between 1997 and 1998, he was seconded as a foreign associate to Debevoise & Plimpton’s New York and Paris offices. Yamaguchi received an LL.M. degree from Columbia Law School in 1997.
In 2016, Yamaguchi represented Japan’s Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. on a $1.2 billion acquisition of Netherlands-headquartered Alliance Tire Group B.V. from U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co.
Shimizu joined the firm in 1993 and worked for a year with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York in 2005 after earning an LL.M. from Harvard Law School the previous year.
U.S. lawyer Bohrer joined Nishimura as counsel in 2004 and became a partner in 2013. Previously, he practiced with Shearman & Sterling and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
“The U.S. is the top destination for Japanese foreign direct investment, while the U.S. is the largest investor in Japan,” Masaki Hosaka, Nishimura’s managing partner, said in a statement. “Our goals for New York include providing seamless support, a closer and more convenient presence and a coordinating point for our large number of Japanese clients as they do business in North America and Latin America.”
Japanese companies have been looking for acquisitions overseas in recent years, encouraged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics”—economic policies that support outbound deals by providing low-cost financing.
So far this year, Japan has already been involved in outbound deals worth approximately $115.9 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. This includes a SoftBank-led consortium’s $7 billion investment in Uber, which closed in January, and Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.’s $62 billion bid for London-listed Shire last month.
To capture work from Japan’s outbound deals, global firms have made Japan-focused hires while Japanese firms have ventured abroad. Earlier this month, Mayer Brown recruited Japan-focused partners Satoru Murase and Yoshihide Ito in New York and Washington, D.C., respectively, from Morgan Lewis.
Two other major Japanese firms also have a presence in the U.S. The firm Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu launched its New York office in 2010 and now has five lawyers there, and TMI Associates opened an office in Silicon Valley in 2014.