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Singapore helps boost Japan's expertise in international commercial mediation

SINGAPORE's expertise in cross-border commercial dispute mediation will soon help boost Japan's own capabilities in the area, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Japan Association of Arbitrators (JAA).

SIMC will help set up the new Japan International Mediation Centre in Kyoto (JIMC-Kyoto), including helping JIMC-Kyoto set up its panel of mediators, and the centre will begin operations by early 2018.

SIMC will partner JIMC-Kyoto to promote international commercial mediation in Japan through joint lectures, conferences and seminars, and to raise the quality of international commercial mediation in Japan through the training of mediators and advocates.

The two centres will also work together to raise awareness of the benefits of mediation, and how it can be used to resolve disputes involving Japanese companies overseas.

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Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance, Indranee Rajah, said that SIMC's MOU with JAA is a "strong endorsement" of Singapore's capability in international commercial dispute resolution.

"It is also a good example of how Singapore can work with other dispute resolution centres in Asia to build up international expertise, so that we can better serve the needs of businesses," she said.

SIMC board member Lok Vi Ming said that the value of relationships and reputations in Japanese business culture, coupled with creativity in seeking innovative solutions, make for "great potential" for the adoption of mediation despite it being a relatively new concept in Japan.

In a joint statement, Singapore's Ministry of Law and SIMC said that Japanese companies now number among SIMC's top five foreign users, and SIMC had mediated over S$20 million worth of disputes involving Japanese companies over the last two years.

SIMC's agreement with JAA is its fifth MOU with other Asian dispute resolution centres in 2017. It had previously signed MOUs with the Indonesian Banking Ombudsman Services, the Seoul International Dispute Resolution Center, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Hangzhou Arbitration Commission.

The mediation centre was launched in 2014 by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Minister for Law K Shanmugam, with the intention to provide mediation services for parties in cross-border commercial disputes, especially those doing business in Asia.