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Alison Jones moderated this session.
Reiko Aoki wished to present to the audience some recent developments in Japan. As an introductory remark, she said she considers competition policy to be a type of ex post regulation with the exception of merger review. It is an exception in Japan as the country has a tradition of industry ex ante regulation where each industry has an oversight ministry. When each ministry has a non-overlapping portfolio of industries it regulates, Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) enforces competition in all industries. The Japanese approach to digital platforms has been to combine sectoral regulation with antitrust enforcement. On the latter, the JFTC revised the Merger Guidelines in December 2019 to clarify its position on multisided markets and data in the context of their review of business combinations, encompassing the issues of killer acquisitions using purchase value along with qualitative measurements such as market shares. For instance, in Google/Fitbit, the JFTC conducted an assessment even though the deal was below regular thresholds. In doing so, it maintained close contact with foreign competition authorities. The headquarters responsible for digital markets in Japan were established to overview the sector, with combined efforts from the JFTC, the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The JFTC stays involved in all discussions relating to digital such as the ongoing one on advertising.