Yoshihide Ito has joined law firm Mayer Brown’s Washington DC office, covering international trade policy pertaining to Japan.

Ito joins from Morgan Lewis, and will focus on economic sanctions, trade disputes and regulation, especially those involving the US and Japan.

He has joined the government and global trade practice in the US capital and reports to Philip Brandes, co-leader of the global corporate and securities group within the firm.

Ito previously worked for the Japanese ministry of foreign affairs as deputy director for the OECD division. His role was to handle political and economic matters between Japan and the US. He was part of the Japanese delegation negotiating the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Prior to this, he served as aide to the Japanese ambassador to the US, also based in Washington DC.

The hire of Ito, along with the recruitment of corporate finance and M&A partner Satoru Murase, comes shortly after Mayer Brown opened its Tokyo office, earlier this year. That office is helmed by Rupert Burrows, a corporate and project finance lawyer, and is part of an overall move by the firm to focus on Japanese clients.

“Expanding the range of service offerings to our Japanese clients globally is a fundamental part of the firm’s overall strategy,” says Burrows. “With Satoru and Yoshi in the US to enhance the capabilities of our global team, we provide a significant advantage to our Japanese clients.”

“As Japanese companies navigate global markets, they seek lawyers well-versed in cross-border investment, litigation and regulatory matters. Satoru and Yoshi check all the boxes,” adds Brandes.