Daily Management Review

Japan To Work Closely With US And Europe To Regulate Big Tech: Antitrust Body Chief


Japan To Work Closely With US And Europe To Regulate Big Tech: Antitrust Body Chief
Japan will work closely with the United States and Europe to address any issues of market abusing by the four Big Tech companies of the world, said the new chief of Japan’s antitrust watchdog. The comments indicate intention of Japan to be a part of the global efforts aimed at regulating the largest of the global digital companies.
Japan’s antitrust body could start a probe against any form of merger or business tie-up that involves the fitness tracker maker Fitbit in the case of the worth of such deals being large enough, said Kazuyuki Furuya, chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC).
“If the size of any merger or business-tie up is big, we can launch an anti-monopoly investigation into the buyer’s process of acquiring a start-up (like Fitbit),” he said. “We’re closely watching developments including in Europe.”
A probe into a $2.1 billion deal by Alphabet unit Google’s bid to buy Fitbit which aims ot compete with Apple and Samsung in the wearable technology market was launched in August by antitrust regulator of the European Union.
The groundwork to regulate platform operators is being laid by Japan. That list includes the four big tech companies known as “GAFA” – which stand for Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook as these companies are currently facing a slew of antitrust investigations in the western countries.
Furuya said that similar business practices across the globe are followed by multi-national companies like GAFA and therefore regulating them requires global coordination.
“We’ll work closely with our U.S. and European counterparts, and respond if to any moves that hamper competition,” he said.
“This is an area I will push through aggressively,” he said. If digital platformers end up abusing their dominant market positions against consumers, probes can be opened them against them by the FTC, he added.
In order to examine whether there is any scope for improvement to spur competition, research into Japan’s mobile phone market would be conducted by the FTC, Furuya said. He assumed the post in September.
According to analysts, increased competition in the mobile phone market of Japan would also support the efforts of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to cut down mobile phone charges in the country. He has criticised the high prices of mobile usage in Japan on multiple occasions. 

The contention that the FTC’s position as a regulatory body mandated to act independently from political meddling by helping the government meet its policy priorities was countered by Furuya.
“If there’s a policy priority for the government, there’s no doubt the FTC should think about what it can do on that front,” Furuya said. “By participating in the government’s debate on policy issues, we have been reflecting our thinking in the process. This is something our organization should do,” he added.