India’s lawyers have a superb opportunity to capitalize on a growing Japan-India trade relationship should they go about their efforts effectively.

As the International Business Times reported, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traveled to India last week where he met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The visit has advanced the objective of Japan re-starting defence-exports to India – after a 40 year hiatus. The two countries also agreed to expand cooperation in civilian nuclear development. “Trade between India and Japan is expected to double in the coming years. In 2011, bilateral trade was worth a relatively modest $17.8 billion; it is targeted to grow to $25 billion by 2014″, as the New York Times reported last year.

Last weeks visit will likely continue the acceleration in the growth of the trade relationship between the two countries – and with it encompass more industry sectors and SMES as trade expands.

What India’s lawyers can do

India’s lawyers are exceptionally well positioned to capitalize upon this expanding trade relationship. I’ve spoken at length with both Japanese and Indian business-focused attorneys about their respective interests in expanding work related to India-Japan trade – seeking answers as to what they might do.  India’s lawyers in particular should consider these initiatives as central to their efforts:

  • Forge relationships with Japanese law firms.

Japanese law firms are ideally placed to serve as a conduit to Japan’s C-Suite.  India’s lawyers can and should develop a sophisticated effort aimed at long-term mutually beneficial relationship building here.

  • Commit to regular visits to Tokyo

Japan’s financial, political and legal capital. The importance of making the commitment to build life-long relationships with Japanese lawyers, in Japan, cannot be over-emphasized. Build these relationships delicately and slowly.

Also consider visiting the vast trade shows put on regularly at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba, in Tokyo Harbor. When conducted – they provide you with superb entrée into thousands of Japanese companies – many of whom are seeking opportunities overseas. Even if you speak some Japanese, make sure to work with a Japanese translator and administrative assistant – who will take you from the airport — and back – and attend the conferences and meetings with you. This is a superb method to ensure appropriate follow-up.

Seek to secure Tokyo meetings with Japanese corporations with an interest in India, having already identified specific sectoral opportunities for them.  Be prepared to begin a long process of gradual engagement with highly bespoke proposals around gradually incremental work being considered as a means to a way forward.

Do all you can to plan your trip ahead – keep a copious schedule – to ensure making the most out of each visit. I’ve organized these for years for US and other attorneys – into foreign financial capitals. You need to make sure it’s done right. Each time – every time.

  • Consider establishing a law blog dedicated exclusively to the Japanese market

I would advise blogging in English and Japanese (via working with a precision English to Japanese translator) – and posting news and information of importance to Japanese lawyers (in Japan’s business world – they are one of they key intermediaries between Japan’s enormous corporate sector – and foreign opportunities – which Japanese companies are seeking to secure at record levels).

Cyber Laws In India Blog has outlined what you need to consider in terms of risks, I’ve outlined what I believe are the benefits to law blogging.  And of course consult with the Bar Council of India should you have any questions about ethical guidelines.

A clear opportunity

India-Japan economic ties will no doubt expand significantly during the next decades. Japan – the world’s 3rd largest economy – and India – the world’s 10 largest – are as the New York Times outlined – dramatically different – but it’s these differences (“Japan could well be considered the yin to India’s yang” – as Delhi-based journalist Aarti Betigeri has written) that make the two economies complimentary — and can serve to help entrepreneurial Indian lawyers build a long term stable of Japanese clients.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal

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