Case Study

Annual Conference of the International Bar Association Held in Tokyo

© Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

© Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

© Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

October 19-24, 2014. The Annual Conference of the International Bar Association was held at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo. It drew over 6,300 delegates from 150 countries and regions. 90% were international delegates.

The International Bar Association (IBA) was established in 1947, and acts as the world’s leading organization of international legal practitioners, bar associations, and law societies. Members include over 200 bar associations and law societies, as well as over 55,000 individuals. The IBA aims to promote networking and exchange of information among its member associations worldwide, and has been holding the Annual Conference since 1964.

During the Annual Conference at the Tokyo International Forum, 398 sessions were held. Issues in various areas of law were discussed, including human rights, family law, intellectual property, aviation law and banking law. The IBA Annual Conference is also known for the large number of social functions held each night. The Tokyo 2014 edition saw 62 official social events as well as many other private functions held all over Tokyo, in venues ranging from izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and restaurants with sweeping nighttime views to a cruise ship on Tokyo Bay. Delegates enjoyed "hopping" from reception to reception, networking and enjoying the night.

For the Welcome Reception, the Lobby Gallery of the iconic glass-walled Tokyo International Forum building, which is normally open to the public and used as a walkway between two of the busiest train stations in Tokyo, was closed off for the first time, for the private use of the IBA. There, delegates were provided with a taste of old Japan and the lively streets of the Edo era (as Tokyo was known before the mid-19th century), including a welcome from kimono-clad women, traditional dancing, a kendama performance, and more. In addition, the main street of Marunouchi, Tokyo’s leading business district, was closed off during IBA Week to serve as a temporary café space for the delegates. It was the first time ever that car traffic through this area had been suspended for a conference.

Among the multiple forms of support provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, the most popular proved to be the stationing of student volunteers on every corner in and around the venue to guide the 6,300 delegates to their destinations. Many delegates showed their appreciation by saying “arigato” to the volunteers, and some stopped to chat with students in English.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau also supported the conference in other ways. They provided City Information desks at airports and on-site, flags and banners for the surrounding shopping streets, sightseeing tours in Tokyo, and cultural programs. Delegates had opportunities to try on a kimono, learn ikebana, or make a Japanese woodblock print. These cultural events were especially popular among the many delegates who were visiting Japan for the first time.

Marc Pursals, the congress organizer of Judy Lane Consulting, commented "The Conference was excellent. It was well organized and things went smoothly on-site. We have been receiving fantastic comments from our delegates, and that is very important to us. Costs in Tokyo were reasonable, and the quality of service was very high."

Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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