Japan’s Nishimura and Asahi launches into Myanmar and Thailand

Nishimura and Asahi, one of the largest firms in Japan, has set down plans to open two new offices in major centres in Myanmar and Thailand as part of a regional push.

Nishimura’s Yangon office will open in May while its Bangkok office is set to launch in July.

In a statement, the firm said that because Myanmar is attracting attention as a fast growing emerging market and Japanese companies are also making inroad into Thailand it would open the two offices in line with its commitment to respond to clients’ needs and expand its network in Asia.

The Yangon office will be initially manned with a team led by associate Yusuke Yukawa, who previously worked in Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton’s New York office.

In Bangkok, the firm’s representative will be associate Hideshi Obara, who previously worked in Bangkok-based Tilleke & Gibbins and as an in-house counsel in the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York.

The firm has been expansive over the past three years. It opened an office in Beijing in 2010, in Ho Chi Minh City in 2011, and in Singapore last year.

Nishimura’s managing partner Masaki Hosaka said the firm’s strategy is to better connect its domestic branch networks with its foreign networks to assist manufacturing clients such as Toyota-related companies. For example, the firm worked closely with Allen & Gledhill advising Toyota Tsusho Corporation in its acquisition of a stake in Singapore listed Sin Heng Heavy Machinery in May 2012.

According to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, as of September 2012, Nishimura housed 94 partners, 318 associates, 37 counsel and 16 foreign lawyers.

In light of a contracting domestic market, Japanese firms have been growing its regional presence in recent years. Most recently, another “big four” Japanese firm Anderson Mori & Tomotsune opened in Singapore and Shanghai (26 March 2013).