In late February, ABA President Karen Mathis and Rule of Law Initiative Asia Division Director Lisa Dickieson met with leadership of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) and members of the ABA Section of International Law practicing in Tokyo, on their way back from an anti-corruption conference in Thailand co-hosted by the Rule of Law Initiative (read story).
President Mathis met with her counterpart, President of the JFBA Seigoh Hirayama, as well as other JFBA leadership, to exchange ideas on ways in which the two bars can work together under the Memorandum of Understanding "Strengthening Legal Exchange and Friendly Cooperation," that was signed last October. Under the agreement, the two organizations agreed to "seek to enhance the honor of the law and the profession of law and to develop and maintain a relationship based on friendship and cooperation." In this vein, the parties agreed to exchange information, host visits by members, and initiate joint programs and activities, when appropriate and feasible.
The Rule of Law Initiative is already working closely with the JFBA on a project to support the training of Khmer lawyers in Cambodia, and hopes to have the opportunity to collaborate with the JFBA on other rule of law projects in the region. Additionally, President Mathis and her counterpart discussed their organizations' respective efforts related to the gatekeeper issue, which requires lawyers to disclose to relevant authorities instances of suspected money laundering by their clients.
While in Tokyo, President Mathis also attended a breakfast meeting hosted by Tokyo-based members of ABA's Section of International Law. President Mathis discussed her presidential initiatives, including her work on rule of law issues, and solicited participants' thoughts and suggestions on the role and activities of the ABA throughout the world.