One of Japan’s biggest law firms has opted to set up shop in Frankfurt following a surge in outbound M&A deals in Japan last year. Nishimura & Asahi is the first of Japan’s ‘big four’ law firms to expand into Europe. German operations will be co-led by partner Noriya Ishikawa and foreign law partner Dr Dominik Kruse, and will be supplemented by a branch office in Düsseldorf.

Managing partner of Nishimura & Asahi, Masaki Hosaka, said: ‘Our expansion to Europe underlines our commitment both to our Japanese clients, in connection with their potential or existing activities in Europe, as well as to our international clients who are taking advantage of increasing opportunities to invest in Asia.

‘With our firm’s expansion in Asia already well developed, the time has come for us to go to Europe. Our goals include providing seamless support, a closer and more convenient presence and a coordinating point for European clients as they do business in Asia.’

Recent years have seen a spike in Japanese outbound M&A deals. Refocusing their sights away from a shrinking domestic market, Japanese companies spent around $175bn overseas in 2018. Outbound deals reached an all-time high of 777, up nearly 16% on the year before, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Meanwhile, international firms – who reduced their presence in Japan in the 1990s during an extended economic slump – are moving back. Mayer Brown opened an office in Tokyo in March 2018, following in the footsteps of Debevoise & Plimpton, which opened in 2016. King & Spalding, Greenberg Traurig and Withers all opened offices in 2015.