Japan’s capital has been home to Andrew Hughes for eighteen years, since he joined the Tokyo office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in 2005, after a stint as a summer associate.
Through his marriage to a Japanese wife, what Hughes initially saw as a short-term adventure turned into a life happily embedded in Japanese culture, he explains in a Zoom call from New York. Temporarily based in a Chelsea studio during a one-year internal secondment at the firm’s Manhattan office, he thinks the New York subway might take some getting used to after Tokyo’s flawlessly clean and efficient public transportation system.
In his current role, of counsel to Orrick’s Energy and Infrastructure group, Hughes represents international investors and developers involved in solar and wind energy projects. “Fascinated and terrified” by the climate science he learned as an environmental studies major in the 1990s, Hughes was delighted to join the firm’s team working on renewables, in 2021.
He works closely with four licensed Japanese attorneys, bengoshi, to advise both international companies developing projects in Japan, and Japanese sponsors investing abroad. The team provides expertise in Japanese law, combined with experience working in the international project finance market, acting as translators not only across language barriers but also bridging differences in business practices. (Between college and law school, Hughes learned Japanese while on a three-year Japanese government-sponsored exchange program for English-language teachers.)
One multi-year major project for which Hughes negotiated project financing is the onshore Fukaura Wind Farm in Aomori Prefecture, near Japan’s northwestern sea border. Developed by Green Power Investment using nineteen wind turbines supplied by GE Renewable Energy, the facility is on target to be fully operational in 2024. “When it comes online and it’s providing power to thousands of homes,” he says, “it does feel good to work on something related to helping to fight climate change in some small way.”
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