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Herbert Smith has appointed a consultant from Tokyo to develop the firm's network in Japan.
Professor Oda is a professor of Japanese law at University College London. He is qualified as an attorney in Japan and has received a doctorate from the University of Tokyo.
He will liaise with Herbert Smith's lawyers in London and its Asia offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Richard Fleck, the firm's head of international business, said Oda would prove crucial in developing the firm's presence in Japan and in providing client contacts.
He confirmed that the firm was looking closely at setting up an office in Tokyo but would not rush into any firm commitments. "The experience of other English law firms has made us very cautious," he said.
City firms Slaughter and May, McKenna & Co and Richards Butler have all been forced to withdraw from Japan because of objections from the local bar in Tokyo.