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Goodsill Partner Alan Fujimoto featured in Seven Hills Magazine

Dec 25, 2006

Balancing Hawaii State Law and Japanese Customs
Translated by Alan Fujimoto

Seven Hills Magazine

The law firm of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel is a long-standing law firm in Hawaii that was established in 1878, and it provides legal services not only to businesses but to individual investors. Attorney Alan S. Fujimoto, who has assisted various Japanese companies in their transactions, discussed some points of interest with us.

The law firm of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel has a history of over 125 years and has provided legal services not only to Hawaii businesses but to the finest mainland companies as well. In the 1960’s Japanese companies and individual investors first started arriving in Hawaii as they established businesses and started to buy vacation homes in Hawaii. These investors started to establish businesses primarily in the Waikiki area. Legal assistance was needed in negotiating contracts, setting up corporations and resolving disputes.

Mr. Fujimoto says “In Japan, the traditional thinking has been that you talk to an attorney when a problem occurs. In the United States, the general practice is to involve an attorney from the time you begin discussing a contract.” Contracts are important in the consummation of a transaction in the United States. In the case of a commercial transaction, from the time you negotiate a contract until the transaction is consummated, you may need several documents extending to hundreds of pages.

In the 1990s there was a large outflow from Hawaii of Japanese capital, but in recent years investment from Japan into Hawaii is on the rise again. It is expected that this trend will continue in the near term. Particularly in the real estate area, Mr. Fujimoto is currently receiving as many as 4 to 5 inquiries per month. He says, “For individuals wishing to acquire residential real property in Hawaii, such transactions are mostly handled by real estate brokers alone, so we are generally not involved in such negotiations. But we do get involved when the investor wishes to consider estate planning or other issues as part of the investment process.”

In Hawaii, there are occasions when Native Hawaiian issues can come into play. If there may be an ancient Native Hawaiian grave site within commercial property one has acquired, there are laws that apply to such situations. Hawaii’s economy depends largely on a lively tourism industry, so residents of Hawaii are keenly aware of the importance of preserving the natural environment of Hawaii and such issues can come to the forefront.

Mr. Alan S. Fujimoto is a third generation Japanese-American, but he grew up in Yokohama, Japan. In the negotiation of complicated contracts involving international transactions, his understanding of Japanese customs as a U.S. attorney becomes most precious. “In real estate transactions, we often come across Japanese who want to record on a lucky day under the Japanese calendar,” says Mr. Fujimoto who displays an appreciation of the peculiarities of the Japanese.

Hawaii is familiar to the Japanese. Even then, it is a foreign land. Mr. Alan S. Fujimoto of Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, who is well-experienced in various legal fields such as residential real estate, commercial real estate, general business and U.S. visa applications, is a strong ally for Japanese investors who are looking to venture into Hawaii.

Profile: Alan S. Fujimoto
Partner
Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel

Born in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from an American high school in Yokohama, Japan, attended the University of Hawaii (English major). In 1975 joined the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. Left the Bureau after becoming Deputy Director of the Research Department. Attended law school at the University of California – Davis. Graduated in 1984 and passed the Hawaii bar. After joining the law firm of Kashiwa Kashiwa & Kato, the firm merged with Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, where he continues to practice. He was a board member of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association for seven years.

Photos Above (click on Japanese version link above to view): Ali’i Place, the building in which the law firm has its offices in downtown Honolulu, is surrounded by greenery.

Photo Below (click on Japanese version link above to view): : The office has a very traditional construction with heavy use of dark teak wood. The French consulate is located within the offices. The library encompasses two floors and contains innumerable legal treatises and books. They also have a training room where attorneys and staff are trained on new computer software much like a school.

Magazine “SEVEN HILLS” is a monthly money, culture and lifestyle magazine dedicated to high-net-worth individuals, published by e-MARKETING Inc. located in Tokyo, Japan.

Permission to reprint given by:
Seven Hills Magazine,
e-Marketing Co., Ltd.
Minami Aoyama Bldg. 2F-6F
1-10-2 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-0062, Japan

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