Japan Practice

The global marketplace can be extremely rewarding for Japanese companies, but expanding into new markets, such as the United States and United Kingdom, may pose challenges. Such companies need experienced legal advisors who can both guide them through legal, business and cultural challenges and provide strategic counsel to help businesses maximize international opportunities, both while transitioning overseas and once they are established here.

Our Team

Masami Izumida Tyson
Hideki Akiyama
Seiko Okada, M.D., Ph.D.
Chiharu Yuki
Yuko Watanabe

Masami Tyson is a partner in the firm’s Corporate and Securities group. Global companies, particularly those based in Japan, look to Masami for guidance when doing business in the U.S. market. As leader of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Japan Practice, Masami provides Japanese businesses with a wide range of corporate and economic development counsel, including helping clients with understanding the process of setting up operations in the U.S., as well as structuring and negotiating complex contracts and general corporate matters in either Japanese or English.

In addition to her legal guidance, Japanese companies rely on Masami as a trusted business advisor. Masami, a native of Yokohama, Japan, uses her deep understanding of both U.S. and Japanese business cultures and her extensive experience with the Japanese business community to help business leaders operate successfully in the U.S. She also provides this same level of legal, business and cultural guidance to U.S. clients wanting to do business in Japan.

Masami is the former Global Director of Foreign Direct Investment and Trade for the State of Tennessee. There, she liaised with international, diplomatic, and economic offices, maintained strategic oversight for all overseas teams facilitating economic development in Tennessee, provided support to companies located in Tennessee, and advised state leadership on matters relating to foreign affairs.

Prior to her time with the State of Tennessee, Masami served in several in-house counsel roles, including Senior Counsel for Nissan North America. At Nissan, she completed marketing deals with large sponsors and contracts relating to advanced technology, such as autonomous driving, electric vehicles (EV) and more. Her in-house experience also includes extensive experience with licensing agreements and closing a number of large corporate transactions with Japanese Fortune 500 companies.

Hideki Akiyama works as a trusted advisor to many Japanese companies relating to such client’s business transactions in the U.S, including, without limitation, merger and acquisition transactions, general corporate matters (including negotiating and drafting agreements for joint ventures, strategic alliances, and distributorships) as well as labor and employment issues and dispute resolution matters (both litigation and arbitration). He grew up, studied, and has worked in both the U.S. and Japan and is well-versed in the cultural and structural differences of doing business in Japan and the United States.

Hideki has represented both Japanese and U.S. companies in dispute resolution matters and arbitration proceedings before various tribunals, including the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. He has also worked for Japanese and U.S.-listed companies in cross-border energy and infrastructure projects.

Seiko Okada is a devoted, proactive attorney. That’s why clients turn to Seiko for counsel: They know her tenacious and dynamic approach to their issues will result in a solution that aligns with their strategic goals.

Seiko is a multidisciplinary attorney with a Ph.D. and an M.D. and professional experience as a physician and scientist. Seiko provides comprehensive advice at each step of the client’s product development, from research and development, manufacturing, to marketing and sales, with a focus on intellectual property (IP) development and strategy, IP risk management for infringement and litigation, IP agreements and licensing, joint research, governmental regulations, and dispute resolution. Seiko has strong expertise in life sciences (such as cell biology, genetics, gene editing, agricultural biotechnology, food science, immunology, vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, pharmaceuticals), medical device, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Seiko also supports clients on their crossborder needs including general corporate, employment, compliance, and risk management needs.

Before joining Womble Bond Dickinson, Seiko interned with Judge James A. Wynn of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Seiko was a scientist at the University of North Carolina Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center. She was also a physician specializing in pulmonary/critical care medicine. Seiko brings her patient-oriented clinical approach and meticulous analytical scientific approach to her legal practice to achieve her clients’ needs and beyond.

Chiharu Yuki is a trusted advisor to clients in a wide range of corporate matters, including cross-border mergers and acquisitions, general corporate matters and capital markets transactions. Chiharu has experience in drafting, reviewing and negotiating a broad range of primary and ancillary M&A transaction documents.

Chiharu is fluent in Japanese and Japanese corporations in particular depend on Chiharu to counsel them through a number of corporate-related issues. She advises them on cross-border mergers and acquisitions and provides securities law advice to global companies.

Chiharu was raised and educated in both the U.S. and Japan. She previously worked for prestigious international law firms in Tokyo, Japan. Using her language skills and deep understanding of the business and legal cultures of the U.S. and Japan, she assists the Japanese companies with their U.S. corporate law matters.

Yuko Watanabe is a business development professional with more than two decades of experience in both the US and Japan. A native of Japan, she was educated and worked in both countries, and has been based in New York since 1996. Since 2019, Yuko has been an independent consultant specializing in Japan market strategy, business development, and media relations.

At Womble Bond Dickinson, Yuko supports the Japan Practice team as a business development consultant, develops internal and external marketing/outreach strategies, and serves as a liaison between Japanese corporates and resources within the firm.

Currently, she is a Senior Advisor (Japan) at Greenmantle, a macroeconomic and geopolitical advisory firm co-founded by Niall Ferguson, a leading financial historian and author. Yuko also serves on the board of directors at Cybozu, a Tokyo-based software company that provides web-based groupware services, since 2022. From 2020 to 2021, she worked at PwC in New York City as a Japanese Client Liaison/Client Relationship Executive.

Many global clients, including those based in Japan, turn to Womble Bond Dickinson for guidance. Our Japan Practice helps companies based in Japan expand into the U.S. and UK and provide the services they need while in transition and as they establish their operations. We support Japanese companies with new operations in these markets as well as those that have been in the U.S. and UK long term.

Our Japan Practice Team members act as trusted advisors to our clients, providing not just legal advice, but guidance that helps companies achieve their overall business goals. Our team includes Japanese natives who are fully fluent in Japanese and English, and have professional experiences in both the U.S. and Japan. These team members help clients bridge gaps in business culture that may arise, and provide seamless support for both the clients’ operations here and headquarters in Japan.

Our Firm’s Services to Global Companies

The Japan Practice Team is complemented by a full-service law firm of more than 1,000 attorneys in the U.S. and UK. Our international clients benefit from our global capabilities and outlook, with our Japan Practice team serving as a liaison between the client and rest of the firm.

Commercial
Corporate
Dispute Resolution and Litigation
Employment

We represent clients on business-critical transactions and regulatory matters, helping remove obstacles to growth and success. Our experience includes commercial contracts, government contracts, cross-border transactions, international trade and export controls.

Our corporate and securities team advises both private and publicly traded companies on a full range of complex transactions, regulatory matters and governance. Our experience spans the spectrum of domestic and cross-border transactions including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, corporate reorganizations, joint ventures and strategic investments.

From high-profile “bet-the-company” litigation and class actions to the most common challenges, our trial-tested litigators defend companies in complex commercial and product liability litigation through every level of the courts. Our strengths include antitrust, consumer finance, ERISA, insurance, D&O matters, securities, and mass torts, among others. We also help companies resolve disputes through international arbitration and mediation.

We understand that people are a company’s most important asset. Our comprehensive employment law services include discrimination and equal pay, executive recruitment and defection, restrictive covenants, outsourcing, employment disputes and litigation, and contracts, policies and procedures. We also advise clients on employee benefits and executive compensation matters.

Finance: Banking, Restructuring, Insolvency
Immigration
IP, Technology and Data
Projects, Construction and Infrastructure

We provide commercially-focused advice in all aspects of transactional, regulatory and advisory finance work. Our services include asset-based lending, bankruptcy and restructuring, consumer finance disputes and litigation, equipment finance, financial regulatory, international development finance, public finance, real estate finance, and syndicated lending.

Led by an Immigration Law Specialist, our team provides services in all realms of immigration law including temporary visa applications, permanent residency and citizenship applications, strategic planning and worksite compliance advice, value-add training for HR, recruiters and hiring managers, and personalized, customizable immigration assistance.

A company’s lifeblood is the strength and security of its intellectual property. With more than 150 IP lawyers and patent agents in the US and UK, we help clients protect and monetize their technology and IP assets. Our capabilities include patent, trademark and copyright procurement, counseling and litigation, licensing and transactions, trade secrets, data protection and cybersecurity.

We advise public and private sector clients on capital projects from inception to completion, including front-end contract strategy, project documentation, regulatory matters and risk management. Our experience includes infrastructure projects across the globe in the power generation, offshore, transportation, engineering and renewable energy sectors.

Real Estate
Regulatory
Wealth Management
WBD Advance

We assist clients with their real estate needs through the entire real estate cycle, including acquisition, development, management and divestiture. Clients benefit from our broad industry and sector experience including hospitality, multifamily, mixed-use, retail, industrial, office, healthcare, real estate lending, transport and commercial timberland.

Our regulatory lawyers focus on antitrust and competition law, international trade and related regulations, environment, health and safety regulations, and product compliance law. We help companies establish compliance programs and conduct internal investigations. Our goal is to help our clients maintain legal compliance while conducting their business profitably.

Our Wealth Management team advises high net worth individuals, professional and corporate trustees, wealth management professionals, private equity firms, mutual funds, regulatory and compliance consultants, and insurers on a myriad of legal issues surrounding wealth transfer and regulatory compliance.

WBD Advance is a suite of innovative legal and business solutions for clients including BullDox (eDiscovery & Information Management), Case Management Facility (CMF), GCSolutions, Graphic Solutions, Immigration Solutions, Medical and Scientific Solutions, and Regulatory Affairs.

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