Firms relocate Tokyo staff in wake of earthquake

A number of firms with bases in Tokyo are offering their staff help to leave Japan following last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

Ashurst is temporarily relocating its Tokyo staff to Hong Kong or Singapore due to the dangerous conditions.

The top 20 firm confirmed that everybody who works in the office is safe and accounted for, with the trainee who is currently seconded to Japan retuning this week as previously arranged. The firm has also decided to delay the departure of the trainee due to head out for a Tokyo seat for two weeks, subject to conditions.

A spokesperson from Ashurst said in a statement: “Given that the situation at the nuclear plant in the North East of Japan has grown more serious we’ve decided to vacate the Tokyo office and to offer staff and their immediate family the option of temporary relocation.

“The overriding concern is of course for the safety of members of the office and their families.”

Elsewhere, Herbert Smith, which sent three trainees to Tokyo on 7 March, has offered financial support to let them return to the UK.

The firm’s office there remains closed, although it is expected that it will re-open next Tuesday.

Allen & Overy has also given its staff the option to return to the UK, or temporarily relocate to one of its other Australasian bases, with its Tokyo office remaining closed this week.

Fellow magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer confirmed that all staff in its Tokyo office are safe and well, adding that the two trainees based in the office have temporarily moved to Hong Kong.

Linklaters has flown its two Tokyo trainees back to the UK a week earlier than planned and is delaying the start date of the two who are due to fly out to Japan.

A spokesperson for Linklaters said: “We can confirm that all our colleagues in our Tokyo office are safe. As you would expect, the safety and well-being of our people is paramount and we’re continuing to monitor the situation in Japan closely. Given the restricted transportation services in Tokyo, our people there have been empowered to work from home until 21 March. However, we’re continuing to serve our clients as normal and have even closed a number of large transactions this week.”

Norton Rose, meanwhile, has kept its Tokyo office open, running with a reduced staff, and similarly has given the option for temporary relocation of staff, including seconded trainees, to Australia or Hong Kong.

The firm is also offering staff in its Bahrain office the option of relocating to another base amid ongoing political unrest in the kingdom.