Japan to join forces with US and Europe in regulating ‘Big Tech’

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Japan will combine forces with the United States and Europe to carry on almost any marketplace abuses by the four Big Tech platforms, the new mind of its antitrust watchdog has said, a signal Tokyo will combine global efforts to regulate digital platform operators.

Kazuyuki Furuya, chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), also said Tokyo may open a probe into any merger or business tie-up involving fitness tracker maker Fitbit when the magnitude of these deals are large enough.

“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 told journalists at our partner news agency Reuters. “We’re closely watching developments including in Europe.” he continued.

EU antitrust regulators in August launched a study into a $2.1 billion deal with Alphabet unit Google’s bid to purchase Fitbit that aimed to take on Apple and Samsung in the wearable technology industry.

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Japan is laying the groundwork to control operators. One of them are big tech giants dubbed “GAFA” – Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook – which face numerous antitrust probes in western nations.

Multi-national companies such as GAFA have similar business practices throughout the world, making international manipulation vital, Furuya said.

“We’ll work closely with our US and European counterparts, and respond if to any moves that hamper competition” he explained.

“This is an area I will push through aggressively,” he stated, including the FTC was ready to start probes if digital platformers abuse their dominant market positions against customers.

Furuya, who assumed the post in September, also said that the FTC would conduct research into Japan’s mobile phone market to see if there is any room for improvement to spur competition.

Such a move might help Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s drive to slash Japan’s cell phone charges, he has repeatedly hailed as too large.

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Furuya countered the view that helping the government meet its policy priorities can undermine the FTC’s position for a body mandated to act independently from political meddling.

“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 stated.

“By participating in the government’s debate on policy issues, we have been reflecting our thinking in the process. This is something our organisation should do.”

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada. Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Gerry Doyle.

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