Labor & Employment Law

Labor and Employment law in Japan is an area which has already changed dramatically in response to recent changes in society, and more shifts in the law are expected to trace current sociopolitical movements in Japan. Our Labor & Employment Practice Group has developed its team to prosper in this state of constant change, covering all aspects of what Japanese judges and arbitrators have traditionally expected in the employment arena, and leveraging everything that lawmakers have newly introduced.
Another thing you can count on is the special attention we give to providing legal advice (conducted directly in English) to the employees and directors of subsidiaries and multinationals entering Japan, so that they can appropriately grasp their options under the unique and shifting legal characteristics of Japanese Labor and Employment law and practices.
We work closely with our clients to learn their basic interests in issues involving dismissals, compensation, regulatory issues, or collective bargaining; and we place a strong emphasis on preventive measures to minimize the risk of litigation. When litigation becomes necessary, however, we aim to win both the battles and win the peace that follows—working with foreign headquarters and/or local management to offer the best possible solutions for each client’s specific needs, in all proceedings up to and including a final appeal.

Practice Areas

Labor Disputes

Due to recent changes in the labor market, the current economic climate and the introduction of a Labor Tribunal system (rodo-shimpan), there has been a substantial increase in labor-related disputes in Japan. We mainly represent the management side in disputes but we fully understand both sides’ desires to avoid litigation, and so we do our utmost to promote cost-effective alternatives, such as negotiation and mediation.

Drafting Labor and Employment Rules

Well-drafted internal rules of employment (shugyo-kisoku), employment contracts, and properly registered labor-management agreements (roshikyotei) are critical for minimizing disputes with employees and effectively resolving employment issues. We provides clients with practical advice and assistance to develop rules that are consistent with both rapidly evolving Japanese law and each client’s unique business and operational circumstances; and we actively conduct compliance training for personnel, in accordance with each individual company’s needs.

Violations of Labor and Employment Law

We occasionally assist corporate clients accused of violating labor and employment-related laws. Non-compliance with such laws can result in potential criminal penalties as well as significant ancillary damage, both to a company’s reputation and to its bottom line. Our advice to clients is always focused on timeliness and practicality, to minimize every angle of potential impact.

Human Resource Management Consultations on Challenges

We want to be there to prepare your human resources management to efficiently deal with the big challenges, through day by day advice on the minor ones. We frequently assists clients with the human resource management challenges that arise in daily operations, such as downsizing a labor force, or an introduction of employee pension or stock option compensation plans.
And our experience extends beyond domestic companies to encompass both Japanese and non-Japanese affiliated operations working with Japanese personnel and labor-related laws and practices.

Labor & Employment Issues with M&As and Restructuring

We often assists clients facing M&A’s and restructuring. We conduct due diligence on related labor and employment issues, and we assist clients in achieving a smooth transition by recommending the most appropriate procedures and steps.

Union Correspondence

An employment dispute often prompts employees to seek help from their labor union, (or join one if they were not already union members). Employees may use an outside union if no company union exists, and that union may act on the employee’s behalf to request that the company enter into dispute negotiations.
Individual Japanese unions each have their own reputation and character. We can advise clients on successfully interacting with the unions, and how to peaceably resolve their claims. And in delicate cases, we can draw upon our litigation experience to resolve any especially challenging issue.

Our Experience in Labor & Employment Law

Labor disputes are often the consequence of indelicate actions, and so most cases are either settled in private, or are otherwise concluded in a manner designed to avoid drawing attention to the parties. Consequently, we would like to offer general, rather than particular, descriptions of the cases we handle in this area. We have substantial experience in:


  • Resolving labor problems involving Japan-based employees of global subsidiaries in Japan
  • Investigations and responses to employee misconduct leading to internal scandals
  • Complex dismissals of directors or other officials at global subsidiaries in Japan
  • Reviews of personnel and labor environments in Japan (employment regulations, retirement allowance regulations, etc.)
  • Collective bargaining with labor unions (e.g. the joint labor union)
  • Due diligence for the labor and employment portions of M&As
  • Adjustments to in-house regulations during M&As and corporate restructurings
  • Implementation of in-house seminars on ongoing compliance with labor laws
  • Representation of corporate interests in labor lawsuits, labor trials, labor committee arbitrations, mediations, etc.


As part of our efforts to share our research and experience with our client community, Our Labor and Employment Practice Group publishes a newsletter in English about developments in Japanese labor law. The target of this newsletter is, broadly-speaking, non-Japanese directors managing operations in Japan. Our goal is to provide a view of how this complex and shifting area of law may impact businesses and industries, helping companies to make more appropriate labor and employment decisions. We’re confident you’ll find the newsletter an advantage in your work.

To download newsletter in PDF format, please click the link below.



  • “Labour and  Employment Law: A Practical Global Guide, Japan Chapter” (Globe Business Publishing Ltd, 2011), Hiromasa Ogawa, Lynn F. Pickard, and Hitomi Sakai

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