Japanese lawyer easing business in the Kingdom

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Sadao Matsubara has been the head of HBS Law’s Japan Desk since 2015. Photo supplied

After working on developing the Cambodian legal system, top lawyer Sadao Matsubara – head of the Japan Desk at leading Cambodian law firm HBS Law – dedicated his efforts to facilitating Japanese investors to do business in the Kingdom.

The Osaka native came to the Kingdom to work on a Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) development project in 2012 before deciding to stay.

“I have been working in Cambodia since September 2012. I had been working as a public prosecutor in Japan since 1996. I was dispatched by Japan’s Ministry of Justice to Cambodia to work as a chief legal adviser on the Jica Legal and Judicial Development Project in Cambodia in 2012.

“I was supposed to return to the prosecutor’s office in Japan in September 2014, but I liked Cambodia and wanted to see how it would develop, especially in the legal field, so I decided to change direction and started working for HBS Law as the head of the Japan Desk in January 2015,” Matsubara says.

The legal eagle says the progress he has seen in seven years has been dramatic.

“Cambodia has been rapidly developing, with GDP growth at more than seven per cent a year. When I came to Cambodia in 2012, the number of high-rise buildings was very few, but now there are many. As for Japanese entities, there were only around 20 Japanese restaurants in 2012, but there are now some 200. In addition, Aeon Mall started operations in June 2014. With these developments, I believe Japanese businesspersons and investors can live comfortably in Cambodia,” Matsubara says.

Matsubara, who passed the National Bar Examination of Japan in 1993, says HBS Law is ideally placed to supply Japanese firms with the best legal expertise, with staff who have in-depth knowledge of Cambodia’s legal and business environment.

“HBS Law was established in 2005 and has since become one of the leading law firms in Cambodia. It now has around 70 members, including both Cambodian and foreign lawyers and legal advisors.

“HBS Law provides a wide range of legal services swiftly and efficiently. I have comprehensive knowledge of the Civil Code [CC], the Code of Civil Procedure [CCP] and relevant Cambodian laws. I have been working in Cambodia for more than seven years, so I have accrued comprehensive knowledge of Cambodian laws and regulations in general. I have also learned the Khmer language, so I can read Cambodian laws and regulations myself. I believe these factors make HBS Law’s Japan Desk unique,” he says.

With Japan committed to trade with Asean, Matsubara says Cambodia ranks highly alongside its neighbours regarding the law when doing business.

“Cambodia has in place necessary laws with regards to doing business. Cambodian laws permit the establishment of wholly owned subsidiaries by foreign companies, and these can conduct almost all types of business in Cambodia. Moreover, the Royal Government of Cambodia has developed various policies and mechanism to attract and protect foreign direct investments.

“Regulations on foreign businesses in Cambodia are also not as strict compared to other Asean countries. These are huge appeal points for foreign investors,” he says.

While certain challenges remain, the Kingdom is such a desirable investment destination that Matsubara is confident the number of Japanese businesses in Cambodia will continue to increase, while opportunities for foreign direct investment will remain plentiful.

“It is exciting to see how the country is progressing, especially – as a lawyer – how the legal field develops, he says.