Reflection on the Tokyo Module “Law and Business in Japan”

Sep 25 2018

by Jurica George Miketa

Day 1

The second Asia module this year took place from 27 August to 1 September 2018 in Tokyo. The module "Business and Law in Japan" was held in cooperation with the University of Waseda.

The program began in a typical Japanese manner, punctually and with a warm welcome and introduction by Akio Shimizu, Associate Dean and Professor of Law, Waseda University and Law School in Tokyo and Takao Suami, Professor of Law, Waseda University Law School and Director of the Waseda Law School and Legal Clinic L.P.C. in Tokyo.

Mr. Michael Mroczek, who has lived in Japan for decades, works as a lawyer in Japan and Europe and is President of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Japan, started with the first program item under the topic "Doing Business in Japan" from the European perspective. His presentation was an excellent introduction to the subject matter and understanding of the business world as well as legal regulations in Japan. The internal and first-hand information on how to act as an external investor and businessman in Japan was an enormous enrichment for passing the exam.

Michael Loefflad, President and Representative Director of DKSH, leading Market Expansion Services provider for companies who want to grow their business in Japan, followed Mr. Mroczek with his contribution on "Doing Business in Japan" from the CEO's perspective. He showed the participants the comparison to European companies as well as the actions and obligations of a CEO according to Japanese understanding and the responsibility towards employees and the rapidly growing product range of DKSH.

As the participants later noticed, the presentations were excellent. They were an insatiable foundation for the ongoing program as they provided a decisive overview of business processes in Japan and the structure and strategy for dealing with Japanese business partners.

In the course of the day the IP Law was explained in detail by Ichiro Nakayama, Professor for IP Law at the School of Law at Kokugakuin University and from a Japanese perspective by Mr. Takamitsu Shigetomi, Partner at Oh-Ebashi LPC & Partners in Osaka. The whole afternoon focused on the protection of intellectual property and the harmonization of its understanding with that of the western countries.

After the day's wrap-up, participants were invited to the famous Waseda Bistro 125 on Waseda Campus for a reception as a token of University Waseda's hospitality. There they were warmly welcomed in a great atmosphere and with a delicious dinner. Together with the professors and students, the participants enjoyed the first evening and had compared their great first impressions.

Day 2

The second day of the program was introduced by Prof. Makoto Ogino of Tokyo University of Science and Tetsushi Inada, President of Pharma-East Insight, Inc. In the morning, the IP Law was reviewed and the effectiveness of the R&D strategies was presented.  In the afternoon, topics such as "Maritime Disputes and the Rule of Law in Asia" followed under Kawano Mariko, Professor at Waseda University, School of Law. The title of the presentation and the introduction to the topic initially gave the impression that it was a marginal topic. However, the impression was put into perspective. It quickly became clear that geopolitical decisions play an important role in the topic of "maritime disputes" and that questions of national security have to be clarified again and again, taking into account international circumstances. In addition, there was a discussion about who owns mineral resources off Japan's coasts and in the vicinity with its neighboring countries and where there are exceptions under the International Law of the Sea according to UN standards.

In the afternoon, the participants, who were always happy to ask questions, worked with Japanese Contract Law as well as Corporate Law and M&A. Katsuichi Uchida, Professor of School of International Liberal Studies at the Waseda University, presented Japanese contract law. Takayuki Kihira, Partner at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, complemented the afternoon program with a very lively talk on corporate law and M&As in Japan.

Day 3 - The middle of the week

The middle of the week was dedicated to practice. Mr. Kimitoshi Yabuki, Managing Partner at Yabuki Law Offices, opened the first part of the program with an overview of Japanese Competition Law. He was joined by Yasuyuki Kawabata, Professor of Law, Department of International and Business Law, Graduate School of International Social Sciences at the Yokohama National University in Kanagawa, who explained Japanese tax law in a structured way in his presentation and concluded with an active question and answer session.

In the afternoon, the participants visited the multinational conglomerate company Hitachi.

After an introduction and presentation of the traditional corporate culture, from the founding period of the company founder, the electrical engineer Mr. Nominee Odaira in 1910 to the present day, the participants exchanged ideas with the employees in smaller groups and familiarized themselves with their positions in the company.

Following the presentation and the exchange, Hitachi employees demonstrated the latest innovation technology in several sensational demonstrations. The participants were even able to test some of the products themselves and convince themselves of their functionality. After the three-hour company visit, the participants rounded off the day with a fantastic sushi dinner and a relaxed atmosphere in the Ginza area.

Day 4 - Thursday

Thursday started with the big topic "International Investment Law".

Prof. Dr. Shotaro Hamamoto, Professor of the Law of International Organizations, Graduate School of Law at Kyoto University, used the morning to explain the International Investment Law and its complexity together with the active participation of the participants. In the afternoon, participants heard a presentation by Dr. Tomoko Ishikawa on the investment arbitration process. As Associate Professor, Graduate School of International Development at Nagoya University in the field of Free Trade Agreements and WTO dispute settlement, she has been involved in numerous cases and was able to comment on numerous bilateral/trilateral investment treaties and thus offer participants a realistic overview of this legal matter.

Following the presentations, the participants took the written individual examination. After the examination and a refreshment break, the group presentations were prepared in different groups and presented together the next day. All presentations were related to the previous days lectures.

5th day of the week

As a host, Prof. Akio Shimizu concluded  the week, with the topic  "WTO and East Asia: Trade Disputes in East Asia and WTO".  Dr. Urs Schöttli, Far East Correspondent for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Tokyo/Beijing, who has been highly regarded in Asia for decades, joined Prof. Shimizu with a lively lecture on Japan's Exceptional Social Contract: Strengths and Weaknesses of Japan Inc. With a compact and precise wrap-up by the host Prof. Takao and the subsequent presentations of the individual groups, the participants successfully completed the module. With great enthusiasm and a huge backpack of new experiences about business and law in Japan, the participants went to dinner together.

Following the delicious Japanese cuisine, all participants celebrated and spent the last unofficial point of the program "Lost in Tokyo on the last night" until the early hours of the morning. After the sunrise, some took the express train directly to the airport, to take their planes in all directions of the globe. Whilst the others stayed in Tokyo and in its surrounding countryside for a few additional days, in order to explore the cultural variety of Japan.



After the daily program we explored the culinary Tokyo. From fabulous fish specialties, of course lots of sushi and sake, the participants were offered a whole new world of taste and enjoyment - an unprecedented impression between gastronomy, nature and technology. An enrichment for each individual that none of the participants would ever want to miss again.

In comparison to the previous module in Shanghai, which impressed in its own way, one felt the certain peace, serenity and above all politeness as well as helpfulness in Japan, already when arriving at the airport. To our astonishment, many seniors stood ready at the airport, helped politely and engaged the passengers with the entry control. It was new for many to be welcomed by this generation and to see how they were integrated into the social system and performed their duties with pride and dignity. A model, which is promising and motivating.

Many people travelled to the hotel by express train and experienced the famous service of the Japanese Railway. After a few transfers, we stood in the middle of Tokyo! We were there, in the middle and overwhelmed by contrasts. Wherever you looked, contrasts that could hardly have been bigger, but also couldn't have complemented each other anywhere else as well and fited in as functionally. One had the feeling that here everything runs like the Swiss clockwork.

From the famous Shibuya Square, through the Shinjuku Gyo-en the large park and garden in Shinjuku and Shibuya with its traditional tea houses up to Ginza, we couldn’t get over our amazement, whether by day or by night!

Everywhere around you, wherever you looked, in whichever direction you moved, everywhere there was a special mixture of minimalism and elegance. In between, you found modernity paired with tradition. And suddenly young and older people in traditional kimonos and manga fans in disguise stood next to you in the modern subway.

It remains easy to say: Goodbye and Arigato!  We all agreed, this Module is just great and Tokyo simply mind-blowing!  We'll come back and stay longer next time for sure!

A big compliment goes to the team of the Executive M.B.L – HSG and especially to the colleagues of the Waseda University. The efforts and commitment are completely in keeping with the Japanese virtues! Nothing was lacking and nobody got a raw deal. Quite the opposite! It was perfect!


Arigatou gozaimasu and Sayonara Tokyo, Sayonara Japan!