In a bid to enhance its visibility and scope of its work in Japan, Sidley has tied up with Tomoo Nishikawa, a prominent Japanese bengoshi practising international financing and corporate law. With the new venture and he addition of four other bengoshi, Sidley will significantly expand its Tokyo capacity and expects to have 25 Japanese and international lawyers based in the capital within two years.

However, consistent with Japanese regulations regarding joint ventures with US law firms, the Japanese lawyers will operate under the name Nishikawa & Partners, as a registered associated office of Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood.

Prior to joining Sidley, Nishikawa was managing partner of Anderson Mori, one of Japan's leading law firms and most recently was a named partner with Komatsu, Koma & Nishikawa. In 1996, Nishikawa was elected to a four-year term in the Japanese legislature, where he served on a number of budget, economic and financial committees and played critical roles in the creation of the Financial Services Agency as an independent agency from the Ministry of Finance; the nationalization and sale of Long Term Credit Bank of Japan and the Nippon Credit Bank; and in efforts to increase the transparency of the Japanese regulatory process.

He currently serves as special advisor to the committee for promoting Japanese administrative and fiscal reforms, which is studying privatization of Japanese public entities.

Sidley, which has maintained an office in Tokyo for more than 10 years, says that it will now be able to offer clients a broader range of legal services in Japan, including corporate finance and securities, securitization and structured finance, trade negotiations and disputes, capital markets products and also advocacy with Japanese governmental agencies.

Mark Schultz, managing partner of Sidley's Tokyo office has known Nishikawa for more than 10 years. He says, "Tomoo Nishikawa is one of the most respected lawyers in Japan and I believe is the only active lawyer in the country with experience in Japanese law, the Japanese legislature and the Japanese governmental bureaucracy. His unique experience and vast network of clients and contacts, coupled with our own experience in US and English law, permit us to provide unmatched legal services to clients based in Japan or having business interests here."

Nishikawa's bengoshi colleagues in the joint venture include Wansik Lee, who focuses on banking, securitization and other financing and corporate matters; Tadano Oshima, who has experience in international transactions, corporate practise and Chinese-related transactions; and Teiko Shigezumi, who will be involved in financing and corporate related transactions.