Just as defined contribution is finally kicking off in Japan, Morgan Stanley Asset & Investment Trust Management is losing its number two man responsible for launching its DC business.

Ichiro (“Ike”) Morinaga is leaving the firm to study law at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He has worked at Morgan Stanley’s Tokyo office since 1996.

“Entering law has been something Ike has thought about for a long time,” says Paul Klug, executive director at Morinaga’s boss. “He has a lot of courage.”

The move comes at a delicate time as Japan’s defined contribution law was passed two weeks ago after years of delay. Morinaga’s duties will be divided between three staff. Hiroshi Ohno, head of investment trust marketing, and his deputy Yuji Mihashi will take over working with DC plan administrators, while Chiharu Furukawa, head of pension investment advisory marketing, will deal with DC plan sponsors, record keepers, trustees, industry organizations and government agencies.

“Our strategy is the same,” says Klug. “We will be an investment management-only provider. We intend to get on board as many administration platforms as possible, as well as work with plan sponsors to develop the appropriate DC strategy.”

Potential DC plan administrators – mainly banks and insurance companies, and a handful of very large investment advisory companies – are now issuing requests for proposals from investment managers for pooled fund business.