Greeting from Our Representative
Reflecting on my career in law, I can identify two cases that have left the greatest impression on me. Together, they form what I consider the “backbone” of my practice.
The first case is my involvement on the plaintiff attorney team during the HIV ligation case in Tokyo following the HIV tainted blood scandal. In the latter half of the 1980s, nearly 1,800 hemophiliacs (out of approximately 5,000 people nationally) contracted HIV through a contaminated supply of concentrated blood products. Those victims faced discrimination and prejudice following their diagnoses, and many died due to insufficient medical treatment. By 1992, a class action suit had been filed against the government and five pharmaceutical companies, and I joined this effort on the plaintiff’s side as soon as I was registered to practice. I was introduced to the case through a classmate that I had become close with as a trainee. On joining the team, I was overwhelmed by the other lawyers’ high-level discussions and even considered withdrawing from involvement. My mindset changed, however, following a survey trip to the US in preparation for cross-examination. As I learned more about what led to the contamination, and as I spent more time with my plaintiffs (consisting of victims and their families), a steadfast resolve grew within me to ensure the best trial outcome for all victims. Before I knew it, I was setting aside substantial amounts of time to prepare for the case. Ultimately, we reached a winning settlement in 1996. It was my fourth year as an attorney. Since then, the plaintiffs and the legal team have continued to implement numerous reconciliation projects: delivering payouts and support for victims, expanding of HIV/AIDS treatment, abolishing discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, and working to prevent the reoccurrence of similar contamination. I remain involved in these projects, offering my support as is needed.
My second “backbone” case was related to an issue of occupancy of foreclosed real estate. When I began practicing as an attorney in 1992, Japan’s bubble economy had just burst. Real estate prices were in rapid decline, and foreclosures on mortgaged real estate were becoming a widespread issue. At the time, buildings which still had occupants—even occupants without legal claims to occupancy—were unable to sell at auction, an issue troubling both financial institutions and the courts. At the same time, the Supreme Court had denied requests to evict occupants of foreclosed property. Utilizing a provisional order under the Civil Execution Law, I and my colleagues at Harago & Partners worked toward setting a new legal precedent to allow for eviction to proceed. This work involved vigorous discussions with our clients—top figures at the financial institutions that held the mortgages—and arguments with the courts as we fought toward victory over illegal building occupancy. For a recently minted lawyer, it was a challenging experience and all the more rewarding for that. As a result of to this experience within the rapidly changing real estate market, I was able to take on and provide beneficial services to increasing numbers of domestic and international clients operating in that field. From that time through till today, I have proudly served countless clients by providing legal guidance and support on investment property value-add & maintenance and market exit strategies.
These two cases were pivotal to my experience as an attorney. I especially learned through them the importance of team effort, a core value that runs through our practice at Sugiyama & Partners LPC. Since 2006, our team has worked tirelessly as the Harago & Partners Law Office Sugiyama Office to achieve the greatest outcomes for our clients. We believe that our abilities as individuals are strengthened both through our work as a team and through the collaborative input of outside experts as necessary.
We delve swiftly and deeply into requests from our corporate and investor clients. Drawing upon past experiences with similar cases and our diverse perspectives, we pinpoint the central issues of each case and determine the best pathways forward to achieve successful results. To do so, our practice does not rely purely on precedent. Instead, we search for alternative solutions and strategies by approaching each client’s request from different angles and expanding our view of the central issues beyond what seems obvious at first glance. For our private and SMB clients, we recognize the need to consider problems beyond just the legal. A wide field of view allows us to uncover the key to each issue and unlock the best outcome. In all cases, we stand by our motto of partnering with our clients with a shared purpose.
Going forward, we will expand our range of services offered by providing legal support for criminal cases, family law, corporate law, intellectual property right cases, large-scale and multi-purpose business reorganization, and business succession and restructuring. Our office is well qualified to provide support for cases surrounding sports law, such as advising on national sports federation management and preparing statements on athletes’ legal issues.
Additionally, our lawyers are regularly involved in bar association committee affairs, public services, and other external engagements that promote legal practices for the greater good. In this way, our office is equipped to provide diverse perspectives on an array of issues.
As we look toward our shared future, we will hold strong to our values and ensure the continued growth of each team member in their abilities and expertise so that we may continue to provide the best results to all our clients.