Akira Kawamura, president of the Japan Association of Arbitrators (the JAA), visited RAPSI's studio at the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum to speak about Japanese arbitration institutions and the possibility of a specialized Russian-Japanese arbitration center.

Japanese arbitration institutions primarily deal with disputes involving local companies. “As far as I know, there are not many Russian companies that are interested in arbitration in Japan,” he said. But this is a fact Kawamura and his colleagues would like to change.

Though Japanese companies have traditionally preferred to sign contracts governed by Japanese law, firms have shown an increased willingness to agree to contracts governed by English or U.S. law. “This choice is not really good for Japanese companies, but they do not resist such practice because it’s well-established in their work,” Kawamura said.

Russian and Japanese companies quite often litigate in London. “It’s not very productive,” taking into account that legal Japan's legal system is based on civil law, while the English leal system is founded on common law, according to Kawamura. This is also the case for Russian firms litigating in England, as their domestic legal system is likewise based on civil law.

“[Litigating in the England] ends up being costly, unpredictable and inconvenient,” he added.

He proposed the establishment of a specialized arbitration center that would be based either in Japan or in Russia, and focus on commercial disputes arising between Russian and Japanese companies.