Kozo Kawai



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Japanese   English   
Practice areas:
M&ACross-border M&ACorporate & Commercial TransactionsIP LitigationPL LitigationAlternative Dispute ResolutionCivil Disputes Arising from Corporate ScandalsCompetition/Antitrust Civil Litigation Disputes Related to Trade SecretsInvestor-State Dispute SettlementInternational LitigationTrade Secrets/Unfair CompetitionTelecommunication & MediaCorporate Crisis ManagementComplianceInternal Investigations & Outside InvestigationsBreaches of Anti-Bribery & Anti-Corruption Laws & RegulationsCartels & Bid-riggingOther Breaches of Antitrust LawsHandling Breaches of Antitrust Laws & Competition Law OverseasAct Against Delay in Payment of Subcontract Proceeds to SubcontractorsProtection of Commercial Secrets & Customer InformationHandling Overseas Corporate ScandalsCompetition Law/Antitrust LawCompetition/Antitrust Compliance & PlanningCompetition/Antitrust Merger Regulations & FilingsAct against Unjustifiable Premiums & Misleading RepresentationsWTO/Regional Trade AgreementsInternational Investment Agreements & ISDSTrade Remedies & Defenses (Anti-dumping, CVD & Safeguards)Customs & TariffsGovernment ProcurementSecurity Export ControlEconomic SanctionsCross-border Transactions (General)Global ComplianceLobbying & Contributing to Planning & Enacting of Public PolicyElectricity/GasTelecommunicationsAutomotive & Auto PartsChemicalsEU & EU Member States
Admitted in Japan (1988, voluntarily deregistered in 1995 and readmitted in 1997)

Mr. Kawai is a partner and a former member of the executive committee of the firm. For the past twenty years, Mr. Kawai’s practice has focused on anti-trust/competition matters and international trade affairs, and he has handled large scale dispute cases and domestic and foreign regulatory investigations.

Mr. Kawai’s anti-trust/competition practice covers every area of the practice, i.e., violation cases such as cartel and unilateral conduct, merger regulations, and compliance to prevent violations of Japanese and foreign competition laws. Mr. Kawai continues to be recognized by international law journals such as Chambers, Legal 500, GCR, Who’s Who Legal, and the Global Competition Review as one of the top practitioners in Japan in the area of competition law.

In particular, in the area of international cartel cases, Mr. Kawai has been working as a global hub for Japanese clients and coordinating the work of foreign lawyers from various jurisdictions, and as a local counsel for foreign clients before the JFTC. In the area of merger regulation, Mr. Kawai successfully represented several major Japanese industries with regard to large scale merger and acquisition transactions, such as the merger between Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal, the JX Group integration, the business integration between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Hitachi, Ltd. on thermal power generation systems, the business integration of Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba on medium and small size TFT-LCDs as their global counsel and coordinated the work of lawyers from many jurisdictions before many competition authorities. In particular, Mr. Kawai represented a group of Japanese steel mills as lead counsel, strongly opposing BHP Billiton’ s proposed takeover bid for Rio Tinto, which was eventually abandoned by BHP Billiton.

In the area of international trade law, Mr. Kawai is widely recognized as a pioneer of trade law practice in Japan and has advised both the private sector and governmental agencies. Mr. Kawai has been involved in most of the trade remedy investigations conducted by the Japanese authorities to date, such as those for the imposition of anti-dumping duties and subsidy countervailing duties as counsel to Japanese and foreign clients, and in some overseas trade remedy investigations to defend Japanese clients. In addition, Mr. Kawai’s practice covers export regulations and disputes arising from the WTO Government Procurement Agreement for private sectors, as well as WTO dispute settlement procedures for government agencies.

In addition to the above, Mr. Kawai has been widely recognized as a leading lawyer in Japan by the business community and has been selected by The NIKKEI as one of the "Most successful lawyers” in the last several years. In particular, Mr. Kawai has represented Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal as its lead counsel with respect to its multinational trade secret litigation against POSCO, and in 2015 successfully negotiated a settlement favorably to the client.

Mr. Kawai taught competition law as a lecturer at the Tokyo Univ. Law School for 10 years from 2006, and currently sits as a member on various councils and study groups organized by governmental agencies.

Recent activities


asialaw Guides 2023: Nishimura & Asahi recognized in 44 practice areas and industry groups across Japan and Asia



Asia Business Law Journal's The A-List: Japan’s Top 100 Lawyers 2022



Chambers Global 2022: Top rankings for Nishimura & Asahi



Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (LL.M., EC Law, magna cum laude)
Columbia University School of Law (LL.M.)
Legal Training and Research Institute of the Supreme Court of Japan
The University of Tokyo (LL.B.)

Professional experience

2018 - 2019
Member, Meeting to Discuss Policy Measures Aimed at Regions
2016 - 2019
Bar Examiner of the National Bar Examination Commission (Competition Law)
2006 - 2015
Lecturer, University of Tokyo, School of Law
2003 - 2013
Ad hoc Member of Industrial Structure Council
2002 - 2004
Ad hoc Member of Industrial Property Council
1995 - 1997
Deputy Director, Trade Agreement Administration Division, WTO Affairs, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Tokyo
1994 - 1995
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Brussels
1984 - 1985
Research Associate (Joshu) of The University of Tokyo

Major Cases


Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. - Sale of Mitsui Phenols Singapore Pte. Ltd. to INEOS Holdings Ltd.


Medipal Holdings Corporation: Agreement to acquire Toshichi Inc.


KITO Corporation: Business integration with the Crosby group


Kawasaki Kisen, Ltd. - Share exchange with its listed subsidiary, Kawasaki Kinkai Kisen, Ltd.


JX Nippon Mining & Metals Corporation - Sale of LS - Nikko Copper Inc.

2019 - 2020

Showa Denko K.K. - Tender offer for Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.


Mizuho Financial Group, Inc./Mizuho Bank, Ltd. - Capital and business alliance between Mizuho Bank, Ltd. and IBJ Leasing Co., Ltd.

2019 - 2020

Anti - dumping measures on Tris (chloropropyl) phosphate originating from China


JXTG Holdings, Inc. - Integration of JX Engineering Corporation and Shinko Plantech Co., Ltd.


Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. - Joint venture with Denso Corporation to develop electrification driving modules


Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. - Joint venture to develop software for automated driving


US Anti-Dumping Victory for Japanese Steelmakers


Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. - Establishment of a holding company and share transfer


ADVICS Co., Ltd. - Acquisition of the foundation brake business of Nisshinbo Holdings Inc.


Mizuho Financial Group, Inc.: Integration of Trust & Custody Services Bank, Ltd. with Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd.


Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. - Agreement to make Toyota Autoparts Philippines Inc. a subsidiary

2017 - 2019

Acquisition of Sanyo Special Steel Co., Ltd. and Ovako AB by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation

2017 - 2018

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation: Integration of Mitsubishi Electric’s particle therapy system business into Hitachi, Ltd.

2017 - 2018

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd.- Integration of container ship businesses of Japanese 3 shipping carriers to establish Ocean Network Express Holdings, Ltd.


Business integration between The Daishi Bank, Ltd. and The Hokuetsu Bank, Ltd.


Dow Chemical - DuPont


Merger review of transactions including the establishment of a joint sales company for containerboards by Nippon Paper Industries and Tokushu Tokai Paper

2015 - 2017

Acquisition of Nisshin Steel Co., Ltd. by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation

2015 - 2016

Acquisition of Tokyo Kohtetsu by Osaka Steel

2015 - 2016

Acquisition of Tokai Steel by Godo Steel


GlaxoSmithKline - Novartis


Joint Venture (Establishment of Mitsui Chemicals & SKC Polyurethanes Inc.) by and between Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. and SKC Co., Ltd.

2014 - 2015

Acquisition of Toll Holdings Limited by JAPAN POST Co., Ltd.


Business integration between Mitsubishi-Hitachi Metals Machinery and Siemens AG in the steel and metal production machinery business


KDDI Corporation - Sumitomo Corporation

2013 - 2014

Business Integration between Sumikin Bussan and Nippon Steel Trading

2013 - 2014

Joint Purchase of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA LLC by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and ArcelorMittal


Business integration between Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Hitachi, Ltd. on thermal power generation systems.


ASML - Cymer


Business integration between Mitsubishi-Hitachi Metals Machinery and IHI Metaltech

2012 - 2015

Trade secret misappropriation litigation against the Korean steelmaker, POSCO

2012 - 2013

Investment in BlueScope Steel Limited by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation

2012 -

International cartel investigation into the auto shipping service sector

2011 - 2013

Merger between Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal

2011 - 2012

Acquisition of a railway car manufacturing company by East Japan Railway Company

2011 -

International cartel investigation in connection with the bearing industry

2010 - 2012

Medium & small size LCD business integration by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (creation of Japan Display)

2010 - 2011

Business integration between JX Group and trading houses in the LPG business


Merger between Shinwa Kaiun and Nippon Steel Shipping (creation of NS United Kaiun Kaisha)

2010 -

International cartel investigation in connection with various auto parts

2008 - 2009

Investigation in connection with water and dam gates

2008 - 2010

Opposition to the business integration of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto

2008 - 2010

Merger between Nippon Oil Corporation and Nippon Mining Holdings (creation of JX Holdings)


Investigation in connection with tunnel ventilators

2007 - 2008

International cartel investigation in connection with marine hoses

2007 - 2008

Investigation in connection with construction work on sewage pumping facilities

2007 -

International cartel investigation by forwarders in connection with surcharges on air cargo

2006 - 2010

International cartel investigation in connection with TFT-LCDs

2006 - 2007

Investigation in connection with construction work on iron bridges

2006 -

International cartel investigation into airlines in connection with rates and surcharges for cargo

2002 - 2010

JFTC investigation into monopolization with regard to the provision of "fiber to the home" services

2000 - 2009

Price-fixing cartel investigation in connection with polypropylene

1998 - 2011

Investigation in connection with construction work on garbage incinerators