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Steering Committee Officers

Steering Committee comprises legal professionals such as practicing lawyers and researchers who are getting engaged in Business and Human Rights from both corporate and human rights protection perspectives.They are in charge of determining the fundamental policies and activities of the network in addition to planning and managing seminars, events and projects as well as administrating ML and website as its secretariat.


Shin-ichi Ago

Professor of Law, Ritsumeikan University

AGO Shin-ichi is Professor of Law at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto and Professor Emeritus of Kyushu University (former Law Dean and Vice-President). He received both his LL.B. and LL.M. from the University of Tokyo, and obtained his Doctorat es Sciences Politiques from the University of Geneva (IUHEI), specializing in public international law. He is Judge at the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal since 2013 and from 2015, he is member of the ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendation.


Hideaki Umetsu

Attorney at Law (Japan and NY),  Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Hideaki Umetsu’s focus includes international and domestic M&A transactions and investment into emerging markets. He has also advised a number of Japanese clients on compliance issues including establishing appropriate global compliance programs as well as conducing or assisting internal investigations and implementing preventive measures, and he has extensive experience in advising business and human rights issues to the Japanese companies.


The University of Tokyo (LL.B., 2003)

Seconded to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Deputy Director) (in charge of M&A regulations, etc.) (2006-2007)

The University of Chicago Law School (LL.M., 2009)

Davis Polk & Wardwell (New York and Tokyo) (2009-2010)

Officer, Asia Pacific Regional Forum of International Bar Association (2016 – current)


Emi Omura

Attorney at Law (Japan and NY), CLS Hibiya Tokyo Law Office

Attorney qualified to practice law in the state of New York, USA (2007) and Japan (2002), currently serving as Chair of the International Human Rights Committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (a national bar with mandatory memberships).

Specialized in gender equality, labour law, responsible business conduct/corporate social responsibility and international human rights. More than fifteen years of professional experience, including working at the International Labour Standards Department, International Labour Office in Geneva.


Language: Japanese (mother tongue), fluent in English and working knowledge of French (DELF B2, 2015). 


Sakon Kuramoto

Attorney at Law (Japan and NY), Orrick Tokyo Office

Sakon has used his experience residing in the United States and Singapore to handle a wide range of corporate matters such as domestic and foreign investment/M&A in both advanced and emerging countries, compliance, and dispute resolution.  

Recently, he has been responding to the needs of Japanese companies advancing overseas by giving advice on domestic and international crisis management, the establishment of a corporate governance structure, the enhancement of global compliance system and CSR related legal matters. He is familiar with various countries' regulations aiming to rectify supply chains, international rules and standards regarding corporate governance/CSR, including “Business and Human Rights” issues and related ILO Conventions. 

Additionally, Sakon’s comments have been introduced in legal articles of the Nikkei Newspaper. He received the 6th Shinnippon-Hoki Inc. Foundation Incentive Award (Award of Excellence) for his legal thesis “Front-line of Taking Countermeasures to Stakeholders”.


Koichi Saito

Attorney at Law (Japan and NY), Anderson Mori & Tomotsune

University of Tokyo (LLB, 1999), Admitted to Daiichi Tokyo Bar Association (2001), Harvard Law School (LLM, 2008), Visiting Researcher of Harvard Law School (2008 - 2009), Admitted to New York State Bar (2009), Joined Anderson Mori & Tomotsune (2010), Partner, Anderson Mori & Tomotsune (2013), Auditor of Nintei Specified Non-Profit Organization, Teach For Japan.  One of the joint founders of Business Lawyers Probono Network, a network of business lawyers who facilitate probono activities by business lawyers.


Makoto Saito

Makoto has been engaging in Business and Human Rights issues in the front line since 1990s. He is a founder and a chairman of the CSR Project Team at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA).  Makoto contributed to drafting the JFBA's CSR Guidelines; Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence; and Guidance on Prevention of Bribery. He was awarded as the Lawyer of the Year in the area of human rights by the Lawyer Monthly in 2017.


Shiro Sadakane

Attorney at Law (Japan and NY), Ohebashi LPC & Partners

Education and Qualification

Graduated from Kyoto University Law School (J.D.) and University of Virginia, School of Law (LL.M.)

Registered at the Japan Federation of Bar Association (2007) and the New York Bar Association (2018)


Advisor (specialty country: Cambodia), Working Group on Legal Support for the Overseas Business Expansion of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Japan Federation of Bar Associations


Akiko Sato

Attorney at Law (Japan), Kotonoha Law Office

Akiko has been engaged in human rights issues both in Japan and Cambodia; specialized in Access to Justice for socially vulnerable people including persons with disabilities, and Business and Human Rights such as Human Rights Due Diligence. Gained an MA in Development Studies major in Human Rights from International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Hague and a JD from Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.  Involved in Business and Human Rights project in UNDP Asia-Pacific in 2017. Conducted some field research on land grabbing and labour exploitation in Cambodia as a member of Human Rights Now, Japan-based human rights NGO. A fellow of Asia Centre, a thinktank focusing on politics and human rights in Asia based in Bangkok. From 2018, an officer of Office of International Affairs of Japan Federation of Bar Associations.


Yasunobu Sato

Professor, the University of Tokyo

Attorney at Law, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Yasunobu Sato is an advisor at Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu and is a professor at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Program on Human Security. He has practised law in Japan, the United States and Europe. Mr. Sato worked for refugee protection, peace keeping/building and law & judicial reform as a legal official with the following international organizations:UNHCR as legal officer in Australia, UNTAC as human rights officer in Cambodia and EBRD as counsel in London. He has represented the Peace-Building Study Groups since 2002 and been a member of the Council of the Center of International Assistance for Judicial Reform, the Committee of International Relations, Japan Federation of Bar Associations since 2006.


Emi Sugawara

Professor, Osaka University of Economics and Law

Dr Emi Sugawara received her LL.M. from Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University and Notre Dame Law School and obtained her Ph.D. from Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University. She has an interest in international community movements over business and human rights, as well as cross-border implementation of international human rights standards for companies. She is a member of Working Group on the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights of Japanese government since Feb 2022. For her recent publication, see here.


Saul J. Takahashi

Professor, Osaka Jogakuin University

Former Japan Representative, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Saul J. Takahashi is the Japan Representative of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, in which capacity he highlights under-reported cases and concerns and seeks company responses to alleged abuses. He also teaches human rights related courses at several universities, including Aoyama Gakuin and Rikkyo.  Saul has held positions with Amnesty International and other organisations, and before returning to Japan in June 2014 was Deputy Head of Office at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in occupied Palestine.  He holds an LLM in international human rights law from the University of Essex and is the author of several books, including Human Rights and Drug Control: the False Dichotomy (Hart Publishing) and Human Rights, Human Security, and State Security: the Intersection(Praeger Publishing, ed.), and Civil and Political Rights in Japan: a Tribute to Nigel Rodley (Routledge, ed.: forthcoming in March 2019).


Daisuke Takahashi

Attorney at Law (Japan), Shinwa Sohgoh Law Offices

Master of Laws (U.S., Germany, France, and Italy)

Daisuke is a partner attorney at Shinwa Sohgoh Law Offices. He has been advising multinational corporations on global legal compliance, corporate governance, and sustainability issues. As Vice Chair of CSR Project Team of Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), Daisuke contributed to drafting JFBA’s Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence, Guidance on Prevention of Foreign Bribery, and Guidance on ESG Risk Management. He also has served as Vice Chair of BHR Committee of International Bar Association (IBA); Consultant for OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct; Member of Working Group on the National Action Plan on BHR at Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Oversea Business Development Expert at Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). 


Takeshi Nakano

Attorney at Law and Certified Public Accountant (Japan), Oku, Katayama & Sato Law Offices

In 1991, after graduating from Keio University with a BA in Economics, Takeshi Nakano joined Showa Ota & Co. (currently, Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC). In October 2006, he was admitted to practice law and became a member of the Tokyo Bar Association. Takeshi serves as Deputy Chairman of the CSR Project Team at the JFBA. He has contributed to drafting JFBA's Guidance on Prevention of Foreign Bribery and JFBA’s Human Rights Due Diligence Guidance.

Takeshi is currently a partner at Oku, Katayama & Sato Law Offices and serves a wide variety of clients, both Japanese and foreign, including corporations, audit firms, and tax accountants.


Wakaba Hara

Attorney at Law (Japan)

Attorney at law, member of Japan Federation of Bar Association (JFBA). Graduate of Keio University (LL.B.) and Columbia University School of Law (LL.M).  After engaging in private practice mainly in international transactions and intellectual property, worked in governmental offices and public institutions including Treaties Bureau and Economic Affairs Bureau of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Legal Support Center (JLSC).  From December 2014 through March 2017, she was in charge of implementation of cooperation for promoting the Rule of Law in Republic of Côte d’Ivoire as an expert of JICA.


The network is given advice in managing the network and its direction by legal professionals who have broad experiences and international viewpoints on Business and Human Rights in Japan and abroad.


Akira Kawamura

Former President, International Bar Association

Attorney at Law (Japan)

Akira Kawamura is the graduate of the Kyoto University, 1965, and of the Sydney University, LL.M.1979.  He was admitted to the Japanese Bar in 1967, and joined the firm of Anderson Mori & Tomotsune (then, Anderson Mori & Rabinowitz).  He has an extensive general corporate, business law, international trade, energy and real property law and litigation/arbitration practices.  He was the Past President of the International Bar Association (IBA) through 2012 and currently the President of the Japan Association of Arbitrators. He was a visiting professor of law at the Kyoto University through 2006. He is a corporate auditor and board member of a number of Japanese companies such as McDonald's Holding Company (Japan). He is presently active as a council member of the Japan Society of International Law, an Ethics Committee for the Japan Cancer Association and an Ethics Board member for the International Association of Athletics Federations.


Yoko Hayashi

Former Chairperson, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

Attorney at Law (Japan)

Yoko Hayashi is a lawyer who belong to Athena Law Office in Tokyo, Japan.  She graduated from Waseda University (LL.B) and started practicing law in 1983.

From the early days of her practice in 1980s, she worked as a legal advisor for “HELP”, a shelter for non-Japanese women, and Tokyo Rape Crisis Centre, which is one of the oldest women’s organizations offering the front-line services for victims of sexual violence.

From 2004 to 2006, she was an alternate member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

From 2008 to 2018, she was a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and served as its Chairperson from 2015 to 2017.


She has assumed some capacity for the Japanese government, such as an advisor for the 4th UN World Conference for Women (1995), and member of the specialist committee on violence against women in the cabinet office (2001-2009). In 2018 she was appointed by the government of Canada to be a member of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for G7.


Yasushi Higashizawa

Professor of Law, Meiji Gakuin University

Co-Chair, Human Rights Section, LAWASIA 

Attorney at Law (Japan, NY, CA)

Attorney at law (Japan, States of New York and California, USA: Nishi Tokyo Kyodo Law Offices), Professor of the Meiji Gakuin University, Faculty of Law (International Human and Humanitarian Laws, Constitutional Law)

Co-Chair of the Human Rights Section of the LAWASIA (Law Association for Asia and the Pacific), Counselor to the President of the UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats), Former Chair of International Human Rights Committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), Former Council Member of the IBA-HRI (International Bar Association, Human Rights Institute)

His recent publications includes the Japanese translation of “Just Business – Multi-National Corporations and Human Rights,” (John G. Ruggie, 2014).

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