Legal Counsel with a Thirst for Knowledge

Corporate Staff
Takahiro Iwaki
Legal Department

Describe your role and job responsibilities.

I handle just about all legal aspects of our business, especially issues that concern the sales department.

My primary tasks involve legal support for our sales department and branch offices. This includes everything from vetting contracts to addressing legal issues concerning documentation drawn up for SMFL and our clients. I’m also in charge of other types of legal work, such as offering ad hoc advice and responding to lawsuits and other disputes.

Legal issues can be hard to grasp, so I regularly share info with SMFL staff via our intranet as well as post FAQs and other info. All this goes a long way in helping staff to deal with questions about the law.

What are the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of your work?

I’d say applying my knowledge of business law in order to positively contribute to our operations. This is not only challenging, but also immensely rewarding.

Work performed by our legal department is defined and constrained by law. Conclusions, therefore, are rarely vague and tend to be either black or white. And coming to the right conclusion depends on having the proper legal knowledge and awareness of legal precedents. Incorrect understanding of either could likely result in misleading advice. That’s why I regularly review legal journals, books and government websites. Keeping up to date on changes to the law and any new laws or precedents is extremely important.

I’ve also got to stay abreast of internal regulations and deals under negotiation. If I’m not constantly aware of how we are conducting business and what a particular deal is about, problems might go unnoticed and come back to haunt us later.

My knowledge of the law and how it applies to SMFL’s business helps us achieve our goals. Sometimes the work can be quite problematic, but it’s always meaningful.

Describe a particularly challenging episode at work.

There’s not one that comes to mind straight off, but knowing that I am contributing to the success of our sales staff by offering legal advice is very gratifying. Also, I’m looking forward to contributing more to our growing international business.

Given the varied nature of my work, there aren’t many deals I see through to the end. Nevertheless, I’m pleased when I hear that a deal I worked on has been successfully concluded, or that my legal advice helped to solve a problem.

We’ve recently been developing business outside Japan, so there is now a significant amount of work involving overseas contracts. I’m getting more involved in this side of the business, which is mainly conducted in English and offers new challenges.

Someone I Respect

Katsuhiko Oshima
Shizuoka Business Department

I owe a great deal of my success at SMFL to Mr. Oshima, who I met when working in the Johoku Business Department. One time there was a ¥1-billion project for leasing a machining facility to an auto parts manufacturer. The client was really pushing to close, so I had to rush around like crazy trying to prepare the application, submit it to the credit department, then brief the executive in charge of risk management. Somehow, we got everything done and closed the deal. When I heard this I was relieved, and it was really Mr. Oshima’s doing, who guided me most of the way. I still appreciate the time he took to more or less show me the ropes.

Private Shot

Jogging and teaching my kids calligraphy

I recently started jogging with my son, who is in the fifth grade. We run about five kilometers every weekend, but I’m the one who always lags behind. My son notices this and asks me if I’m OK — heartwarming yes, but kind of a mood breaker, if you know what I mean.

I also occasionally help my kids with their calligraphy. My son and oldest daughter have both won school awards for their calligraphy. Now my youngest daughter, a third-grader, says that when she starts calligraphy, she wants to win an award, too. Guess I’ll have my hands full for a while!

Note:Department names and assigned positions are subject to change.