Every Child

Has Two Parents


Japan Lawyers - Blacklist, Recommended List, Etc


Disclaimer: The information contained on this web page is based on personal experiences, and is the personal opinion of the author. If you have comments or concerns about these opinions, please contact webmaster AT crnjapan DOT net who will forward them to the author.

If you have used a lawyer in Japan, good or bad please send us their name and comments on your experience.  Also, please let us know the names of lawyers you have faced in opposition, as described below in the WATCH section.  Finally, see our list of online information on Japanese legal organizations.

NEW!!  Comment on the draft version of two Lawyers Pledges to Support Children's Rights that will be the basis for entry into the new Supportive List of attorneys, below.


  1. What is a "Gyoseishoshi" Lawyer?

  2. Attorney Fees in Japan

  3. JAFB Code of Ethics for Practicing Attorneys - external

  4. Practicing Attorney Law - external (cached copy)

  5. Advice from US Embassy on Retaining Foreign Lawyers (cached copy)

Recommended List

These lawyers or judicial scriveners have demonstrated experience in this area and have been specifically recommended by someone employing them and willing to make a specific statement..  If you contact someone on this list, please tell them you got their name from this website.

In Japan

  1. NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo PrefectureMikiko Oyama - Gyoseishoshi Lawyer - Oyama Gyouseshoshi Lawyer's Office;  She has been very helpful for one person living outside Japan on handling Japanese Family Court and government document related procedural matters.  mkoyama (AT] wa2.so-net.ne.jp (大山行政書士事務所); Tel & Fax : 0798-36-7436.

  2. OSAKAYoshinobu Sugimoto / 杉本 吉史 (すぎもと よしのぶ)  At the district court's recommendation, Yoshinobu Sugimoto, lawyer for the Japanese mother, tried (unsuccessfully) to arrange father-child visitation with the father's lawyer. Despite all efforts, his client refused to comply in any reasonable way. The Japanese mother later replaced him with a lawyer more willing to deny visitation.  Osaka Law Offices, 〒543-0071, Osaka City, Tennoji-ku, Ikutama-cho 2-4, Hirata Blding 4th fl.

  3. TOKYO.  Gender and Law.  Details on the actual lawyers behind this site are not known yet.  But members of the Fathers Website recommend them.

  4. TOKYO. Tomoko Suganuma (すがぬま ともこ); One person recommends Ms. Tomoko Suganuma. In addition to his case she worked on the Korean comfort woman issue.  She was at one time with the Tokyo Chuo Law office.  Maybe still is, maybe not.  At that time, her email address was tomoko AT mars.dti.ne.jp

  5. TOKYO. Masako Yuguchi (ゆぐち まさこ) ; Ms Yuguchi from the International Social Service Japan, was recommended by one person who was very helpful about 7 years ago.  It's unclear whether she is a lawyer though.   ISSJ's email is issj AT a1.mbn.or.jp

In the USA


  1. Keith Simpson, Los Angeles, CA.  He has studied law in Tokyo for a few years, is married to a Japanese woman, and has a young child.  He is known to have experience in divorce and custody cases in California against a Japanese spouse/parent.

  1. William H. Hilton.  Santa Clara, California.  He has been called the Guru of International parental abduction. He reportedly entered legal mythology years ago as having every worldwide reported child abduction case on his site.

  1. Andrew J. Botros, CFLS.  San Diego, California. 



         12348 High Bluff Drive, Suite 220

         San Diego, CA 92130


  1. Chris Vacanti; He has experience in international custody law and successfully argued in Douglas county court that the UCCJEA should not be applied to Japan, primarily due to Japan's non-recognition of the Hague Convention, and in the case of active duty US military status.  2027 Dodge Street, #403; Omaha, NE 68102; (402) 345-7600; FAX (402) 345-7600

New Hampshire

  1. Patricia A. Frim; Rye, NH; (603) 436-4939.  This family law attorney has been involved as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in at least one divorce with a Japanese spouse, and so has already researched and been educated about Japanese law.

New York

  1. Jeremy Morely; New York City.  He has the most extensive information on his web site about international family law issues that I have seen to date.  His wife is reportedly Japanese and so he presumably has a particular interest in Japanese Family Law as well as the ability to handle Japanese language documents with relative ease.

  2. Albert Katsuaki Gustafson - His experience is unknown, but he is well educated in the US and works with Kuroda and Associates (Japanese)  in Japan.  He seems worth a try.  Please let me know if you have any experience with him.


  1. Brad Lechman-Su; Johnson Renshaw & Lechman-su; 420 Weatherly Building; 516 SE Morrison Street; Portland, OR 97214; (503)224-1640; We know that Brad has worked on at least two Japan family law related cases.  info AT jrl-s.com

  2. Katherine Roots; 1500 SW 1st Ave. Suite 630; Portland, OR ; (503)226-7986.  Actually no one we know has used this lawyer, but she was referred to someone by a person who thought she might be familiar with international abduction cases and/or cases involving Japan.  Please let us know if you have any experience with her.

Washington D.C. and Maryland

  1. Stephen J. Cullen - a U.S. attorney who with Miles & Stockbridge a top law firm who also works with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and specializes in international custody cases. He had his child abducted once so has a personal interest.

Washington State

  1. Jeffrey Renshaw 420 Weatherly Building; 516 SE Morrison Street; Portland, OR 97214; (503)224-1640; Jeffrey is a partner of Brad Lechman-Su (see Oregon) and is licensed in both Oregon and Washington.  Brad seems to be the Japan expert, but we know that Jeffrey has been working on at least one Japanese family law related case and expect that he is learning fast.  info AT jrl-s.com

  2. Albert Katsuaki Gustafson - His experience is unknown, but he is well educated in the US and works with Kuroda and Associates (Japanese)  in Japan.  He seems worth a try.  Please let me know if you have any experience with him.

Known Experienced

A lawyer on this list is known to have some experience in Japanese Family Law, especially international abduction, retention, custody or visitation.   See also the Other Organizations section for some legal aid groups. Any lawyer mentioned elsewhere on this page is not included here.

  1. NAGOYA: Mr. Kazuhiro Nishiyama of Aichi Sogo Law Offices; An American parent comments, "Mr. Nishiyama has helped me greatly in trying to get visitation with my two children and he has backed me up fully in my fight against my spouse in Japanese family court. Although I did not achieve the ultimate goals I had hoped for, he was very supportive in preparing a vast amount of necessary documentation in support of my position. He was also instrumental in helping me to at least maintain a stable financial condition, and in obtaining guaranteed visitation with my children, 2-3 times every two months. Although he's not a family law specialist, he seems to have a more internationally-minded viewpoint than other lawyers that I consulted with, having spent time as a visiting scholar at Santa Clara University.  On the downside, I felt that he could have been more proactive in researching U.S. law in my case and in examining the implications and issues regarding child custody. This aside, I can recommend him as at least being a solid and reliable lawyer who does not give up or back down at the first sign of trouble. Despite the complacent and biased attitudes of the Japanese family court negotiators, he always argued in favor of un-curtailed visitation rights with my kids, and he even held discussions within his own law firm to promote understanding and moral support for a traditionally unpopular view."

  2. OKINAWA: Toshimitsu Takaesu, a lawyer and former prosecutor in Okinawa, has written a book in English on Japanese family law and domestic disputes.  He is mentioned in an Asahi Shinbun article and several other places on the internet;  He used to be a foreign law consultant at Betts, Patterson & Mines in Seattle Washington.  Current whereabouts unknown.

  3. SAPPOROMr. Toshiteru Shibaike  of Hokkaido Godo Law Offices; shibaike at hg-law.jp, 011-231-1888 FAX 011-231-1785.

  4. TOKYO:  Mitsue Aizawa. (03) 5570-1234.  At least one member has used her, and although the results were not as hoped, she tried hard.

  5. TOKYO:  Hiromi Ikeuchi, divorce and marriage counselor and representative at Tokyo Kazoku Laboratory. Telephone: (03) 3953-3395. An English speaking counselor is available. Fax: 813 5996 3860. Mentioned in an IHT article.

  6. TOKYOKuroda and Associates (Japanese) may be helpful on matters such as getting copies of koseki.  They have a couple foreign employees/associates including partner US attorney Albert Katsuaki GustafsonThey may also be able to help on translation.  They also do immigration and some family law.  (They are not actually known experienced yet, but may be worth contacting.)

  7. UNKNOWN: Hiroko Takemori, attorney at law. Telephone: 81 45 662 0103. Japanese only spoken. Fax: 81 45 662 0681.  Mentioned in the International Herald Tribune article on this site.


Someone willing to explain the details suggests that you do not employ this lawyer for one of the following reasons.  1) This lawyer's actions or practices were morally detrimental to or in opposition to The Mission of the Children's Rights Network of Japan.  2) This lawyer exhibited questionable business practices. (Remember, these comments are the opinions of their author!) 

  1. Kensuke Ohnuki / 大貫憲介 (おおぬき けんすけ); Satsuki Law Office (さつき法律事務所)

(1) Filed complaint in Tokyo district court against a board member of CRC Japan related to his appearance on the Lawyer Blacklist on this page.  (At that time, this page was hosted on the CRC Japan website.)

  1. (1)Acting for a mother who would not allow visitation by father in Japan.

  2. (2)removed from US Embassy list of knowledgeable attorney’s due to his support of Japanese Abductors. 2009

  3. (3)Stated in Asahi Shinbun 7/16/2009 That “most child "abductions" by Japanese women are a result of spousal violence.” http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200907160027.html

Known Cases

  1. Mikiko Otani / 大谷美紀子 (おおたに みきこ); Otani Law Office; Mihama Bldg 8th Floor 1-2-1 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 160-0004  JAPAN; Previous: #103 Yotsuya-Bengoshi Bldg,  13-1 Samoncho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0017, JAPAN and 415 W 118th Apt 71 New York, NY 10027. "Ms. Mikiko Otani has worked with several human rights organizations and is a member of the Japan Civil Liberties Union.  As a feminist in Japan, she should also knows full well that a court would virtually never grant custody of a Japanese child to a non-Japanese.  With a university degree from the US (non-law), she should also know that typical Japanese visitation would never be acceptable to a US citizen. Yet in my opinion, Mikiko Otani did all she could to discourage an amicable resolution between a father listed on CRN Japan and his ex-partner who was denying all contact with their son. She discouraged relationship counseling, discouraged all possible contact with family members who could have helped, and in written letters she, repeatedly tried to direct all lines of communication thru her.   If Mikiko Otani truly supported human rights, she would have encouraged constructive discussion rather than pushing for a battle in a Japanese court." Read more...

  2. Yuko Iwata / 岩田祐子 (いわた ゆうこ); Miki Law Office, 未癸(みき)法律事務所; 〒530-0047大阪市北区西天満4-3-4御影ビル4階; I submitted evidence in court detailing my wife's psychological incarceration, long-term alcoholism, substance abuse and physical abuse against myself and others.  One piece of evidence was a signed statement by my ex-wife admitting that she (i) had taken our then 6 year old son to a number of bars and abused medication and alcohol in his presence, (ii) was under treatment for alcoholism and bipolar disorder, and (iii) had "constantly deceived" me through an extra-marital affair and by disallowing me visitation with our son.  Her lawyer, Yuko Iwata, knew about all this as well as additional attempts by my ex-wife and her family to alienate my son from me, including slanderous outbursts against me in front of our son.  This type of behavior is recognized in nearly all modern societies as child abuse. Yet Yuko Iwata, who is listed as a member of the city of Osaka's Committee to Support the Prevention of Child Abuse (児童虐待防止支援委員会委員名簿) delayed the trial repeatedly, arguing against unsupervised visitation, which a district court judge had recommended.  This gave the mother time to further alienate my son from me.  Yuko Iwata also brought into evidence a letter supposedly written by my son, but which was obviously dictated. (He referred to me by my first name, which he had never before done.) I think these events make it clear that Yuko Iwata is not interested in preventing child abuse and is happy to disregard the best interests of a child in order to earn a fee. 

  3. Thomas A. Flippen; Yamaguchi International Law Office;  This lawyer is alleged to have tried to verbally intimidate one of the several US fathers who has been successful in obtaining a felony conviction against a mother who abducted a child to Japan.  He has also represented an abducting mother in Japan as shown in this sworn United States federal complaint for arrest of Etsuko Tanizaki.  This blacklisting is a dual edged sword as reports are that he is a native English speaker who is knowledgeable in family law in Japan, and has also worked on behalf of non-Japanese parents.  You should certainly consider the potential for conflict of interest before hiring him.  Another member reports that the fees at his firm seem to be very high, charging upwards of 22,000 yen per hour.

  4. Masahiko Sumida; Akasaka International Law, Patent & Accounting Office”Attorney Masahiko Sumida ran away from my kidnapping case against the mother of my child just weeks before Kyoto Family Court hearings.”

Watch List

It has been reported that the following lawyers worked for someone who was or still is preventing a child from having meaningful and continuing contact with a parent.  Or this lawyer brought a legal action that is against the ideals that we stand for.  This list is only meant to put these lawyers and law firms on notice that someone is watching their actions carefully.  It is not intended to be an indication of an individual's knowledge of law or capabilities as an attorney.  Also note that since the overall ideals and culture of a law firm would influence the approach that an attorney takes in a case, even if an attorney leaves the firm with which the original case occurred, that firm's name may not be removed from the entry.  In such a case, the firm's name can be removed if the firm agrees to sign the Lawyers Pledges to Support Children's Rights.

  1. John Visher -Mr. Visher portrays himself as a child’s rights attorney working in Japan to assist parents who have been subjected to International Parental Abduction.  CRN has received five notices to date from parents that claim Mr. Visher did more to “hurt” their cases than to help.  In one case known to CRN Japan - John Visher’s actions resulted in

         a father being taken into a local police office. 



         Legally Mr Visher is not an ATTORNEY and can not legally

         practice law in Japan.   


  1. Lawrence S. Katz - Florida Parental Abduction Lawyer  - recently a Left Behind Father contacted Katz Law for advice and assistance on a case in Florida State.  The father forwarded us emails from the attorney after complaining that he was arrogant and NOT WILLING to help without charging a $300 fee to speak about the case.  There are better attorneys in Florida.      

  1. Mikiko Otani / 大谷美紀子 (おおたに みきこ); Otani Law Office (大谷法律事務所) - (http://www.otanilaw.com/)

4 Known Cases

(2) Acting for a mother who brought a child to Japan from overseas and would not allow visitation by father.

(1) Acting for a mother who would not allow visitation by the father in Japan.

(1) Helping a father to bring a lawsuit in Japan against the family (in Japan) of a Japanese mother living in the United States.  The mother and child are living in the United States and refuse to return because of alleged abuse by the father.

2 Known Cases

  1. Yuko Iwata / 岩田祐子 (いわた ゆうこ) Miki Law Office / 未癸 法律事務所 - (4F Mikage Bldg. 4-3-4 Nishitenma Kita-ku Osaka, 530-0047 )

(1) Acting for a mother who will not allow visitation by father in Japan.

  1. Thomas A. Flippen; Yamaguchi International Law Office (大阪国際綜合法律事務所)- (http://www.yamaintl.gr.jp)

(1) Acting for a mother who abducted a child from overseas to Japan.

  1. Tetsuya Kondo / 近藤哲也 (こんどう てつや) Hayabusa Kokusai Law Offices ( 隼国際法律事務所) - (http://www.hayabusa-law.com) - This lawyer is now at White and Case; See www.whitecase.com/tkondo

(1) Acting for a mother who would not allow visitation by father in Japan.

  1. Imaizumi Yoshitaka /今泉良隆 (いまいずみ よしたか) Imaizumi Yoshitaka Law Offices ( 今泉良隆法律事務所) -  (101-0041,千代田区神田須田町2-23,SSビル,5207-5581,5298-8282)

(1) Acting for <details to be posted later>.

Under Investigation

  1. Mikiko Emi

    1. Acting for mothers claiming domestic violence (disputed by fathers) as a reason to refuse visitation.

  2. Others Names and Lists

The following is just here for your information.  We have no information one way or another on these people except as noted. Also see our own page on Human Rights Organizations.  For a list of recommended lawyers in a specific country outside of Japan, check the country specific law page.

  1. Japan Civil Liberties Union jclu@jclu.org

  2. Most embassies have an online listing of Japanese attorneys who have offered to work with U.S. citizens. (Which doesn't necessarily make them good attorneys nor mean they have experience in this area.)  See the country specific law page for the URL of your embassy.

  3. Immigration Lawyers with services in languages other than Japanese.  Comes from a good source, the General Union of Japan.

  4. Legal Counseling Services for Foreigners - A list by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations

  5. Legal Counseling for Foreigners Provided at Bar Associations Building

  6. Japan Legal Aid Association.  This group offers free consultation in various languages if you meet their income requirements.  They Specializes in providing legal assistance to those who cannot afford lawyers' fees or court costs.  Here is their brochure.   Note that their website, www.jla.or.jp has a lot more information on the Japanese version than on the English version, but the English version is still very useful. They have various locations.  TEL: 03-3581-6941.

  7. Local Government Offices.   Your local government office, such as the kuyakusho, shiyakusho, etc may have a special advice center for foreigners.  (Where ever you go to get your Foreigner's Registration, or Gaikokujin Tourokusyo.)  This often includes legal advice.  Also, if you speak Japanese, they often have free consultations with a lawyer for local residents.  You can usually also go to the government office in the area you work in.

  8. Legal Consultation Center.  This is a group offers a low cost initial consultation on a variety of issues.  They also offer some free consultation if you cannot afford it.  There is consultation for foreigners on Thursday of every week.  The pamphlet is in Japanese, but the number they give for taped information for foreigners is (03) 3581-2302.  The main number is (03) 3581-1511.  They have three locations in Tokyo, Yotsuya (03-5214-5152), Kanda (03-5289-8850) and Shinjuku (03-5381-3681).  If you dont meet their criteria for free consultation, they will charge 5000 yen for 30 minutes.  Then the lawyer will give you his or her card and offer additional help and consultation for additional fees.  Finally, they offer free 5 minute phone consultation.  03-3581-3839.

  9. Dai-ichi Tokyo Bar Association.  This group has offered free legal aid for foreigners in the past, including marriage and divorce.  Here is an English/Japanese flyer describing their services.  Call to see if they are still offering this.

The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.

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