By Bree Farrugia (Herbert Smith Freehills)
In September 2015 the Japan Association of Arbitrators announced the establishment of the “Young Japan Association of Arbitrators” (“YJAA”). The aim of the association is to promote the practice of arbitration and mediation among practitioners of or under the age of 40 who are interested in practicing in Japan.
Various arbitration/mediation events will be organised by the YJAA, often collaborating with other “young” arbitration organisations and aiding students participating in mooting competitions. Given the confidential nature of international arbitration it can be difficult for young practitioners to develop knowledge in the area, therefore the YJAA will give the younger generation an opportunity to share any problems, learn from each other and develop their knowledge together.
The official launch of the YJAA took place in late October 2015. Tsuyoshi Suzuki, partner at Momo-o Matsuo & Namba in Tokyo, was elected president and he will serve this role for two years. Suzuki said that the creation of the YJAA was prompted by the growing attention paid to international arbitration as a means of dispute resolution in Japan. While Japan is yet to become a centre of disputes like Singapore, an increasing number of Japanese companies are including arbitration clauses in their agreements and becoming embroiled in cases abroad.
The YJAA is led by a steering committee composed of the president, Suzuki, and eight others. The members of the committee are Aoi Inoue, special counsel at Anderson Mori & Tomotsune; Yutaro Kawabata, counsel at Nishimura & Asahi; Michael Mroczek, foreign law partner at Okuno & Partners; Takafumi Ochiai, counsel at Atsumi & Sakai; Shinju Ogawa, Japan Commercial Arbitrators Association; John Ribeiro, Associate at Herbert Smith Freehills, Seizabuo Taira, associate at Kojima Law Office and Tomohiro Tateno, legal counsel at INPEX Corporation.
The launch event of the YJAA focused on increasing the popularity of Tokyo as an arbitral seat. Several present at the launch event thought that Tokyo would benefit from a dedicated hearing centre like Maxwell Chambers in Singapore or the Seoul IDRC. There was also talk of how Japan could market itself, similar to Korea, as a civil law alternative to successful Asian common law seats such as Hong Kong or Singapore.
In other news, in early 2016 ArbitralWomen launched Young Arbitral Women Practitioners (YAWP), which is the first female practitioner’s only group. YAWP is to provide a networking platform for women below the age of 40 who are seeking to address challenges arising in the early stages of their career.
Members of YAWP’s executive committee are from across the globe, and include Yoko Maeda, special counsel at City-Yuwa partners in Tokyo.
The association will hold monthly meetings to discuss current issues, occasionally featuring guest speakers, with the aim of fostering a working dialogue amongst the rising generation of arbitration professionals.