Mayer Brown will launch a Tokyo office in the first half of 2018. The office will be headed by new partner Rupert Burrows, Ashurst’s former Tokyo managing partner.

The Tokyo office will be the U.S. firm’s eighth in Asia, with bases already in Hong Kong, where it is one of the largest international firms, as well as in Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai and Singapore.

Many international firms are already present in Japan, the world’s third-largest economy. Orrick, for example, celebrated 20 years in the country this year. Recently, however, some foreign firms have been reducing their Japan presence, with all of last year’s five largest international firms -- barring Linklaters -- shrinking, according to the ALB Top 50 Largest Law Firms 2017 ranking.

Ashurst, which opened in Tokyo in 1990, was at No. 15 in the ranking with 19 lawyers, including five partners. Burrows' departure will leave it with four.

With experience in projects and energy work around the world, including related corporate M&A transactions and finance, Burrows joined Ashurst in Tokyo in 1998, and was made partner in 2002.

“Opening in Tokyo is an important step in enhancing Mayer Brown’s platform in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Terence Tung, the firm’s senior partner in Asia. “We are excited by the opportunities this provides, particularly in joining up with our strong and developing projects capability in Southeast Asia through our growing office in Singapore.”