Message from Chairman(January 2014)
2014 New Year Message from Chairman Sugimoto
This is my first New Year celebration since I was appointed as Chairman of the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) last March. To remark the start of New Year 2014, I would like to deliver my thoughts representing the Japanese competition authority.
The Japanese government has been in its very efforts to reinvigorate our economy with the economic strategy so called “Three Arrows” under “the Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform” the Cabinet concluded in June 2013. In order to let us see such efforts touch down to further national economic growth, it is vital to ensure “fair and free competition.” It could not be emphasized more that “competition is the fundamental for the Growth Strategy” and “there is no economic growth without competition.”
We believe that implementing competition policy primarily expressed in practices of vigorous and appropriate enforcement of the Anti-Monopoly Act (“AMA”) is promoting businesses’ ingenuity and innovation to emerge through guaranteeing and enhancing “fair and free competition,” thereby vitalizing our economy and ensuring consumers’ benefit. This year also, we are determined to fulfill such mission.
JFTC’s Policy Priorities in 2014
The JFTC, this year, will keep actively striving to advance competition policy by such means as strict enforcement of the AMA as follows:
Firstly, our determination will be materialized in our vigorous and appropriate enforcement of the AMA and the Subcontract Act. In last September, the JFTC initiated criminal investigation into alleged bid-rigging in machinery equipment installation works placed by an independent administrative agency. The JFTC also has been conducting administrative investigations over cases involving price cartels etc. in the fields of health care, agriculture and transportation and cases of large-scale retailers’ abuses of superior bargaining positions and so on. The JFTC will in stringent and optimal manner tackle price cartels that have huge impacts on peoples’ living, abuses of superior bargaining positions which unjustly put small and medium sized enterprises at a disadvantage and violations of the Subcontract Act.
In addition, in the middle of the recent accelerated business globalization trend, initiatives for international cooperation and liaison with foreign competition authorities have been becoming much more vital. The JFTC has been promoting international liaison between competition authorities via bilateral frameworks such as antimonopoly cooperation agreements and EPAs/FTAs as well as multilateral frameworks such as the OECD and the ICN. On top of that, we will continue strengthening international liaison and cooperation in situations including individual law enforcements concerning international cartels and cross-border mergers. To achieve this goal, we are keenly committed to building and enhancing corporation frameworks that underpin such initiatives.
Secondly, we will make every effort to develop competitive environment, which is to compose “a pair of wheels” of competition policy together with strict law enforcement. Let me turn your eyes to the JFTC’s advocacy role by conducting research and analysis of and proposal on government regulations. This year, we will study and analyze government regulations or public measures relating to business sectors, especially, where growth is expected from a perspective of figuring out whether such regulations are obstacles for enterprises to exercise their inventive abilities. Accordingly, based on such study we will bring out necessary proposals so as to improve competitive environment in such sectors. In addition, the JFTC will endeavor to make competition policy further penetrate into every layer of the people to raise public understanding on the significance of securing “fair and free competition.” At the same time, we will be very much listening to the people and feed back such voices to our activities.
Amended Anti-Monopoly Act
In addition, I will briefly touch on another this year’s challenge. That is our smooth transition to a new enforcement procedure that is to be brought under the Amended Anti-Monopoly Act (“Amended AMA”) enacted last December.
Pursuant to the Amended AMA, among other things, the existing JFTC hearing procedure system is to be abolished and the Tokyo District Court accordingly will be equipped with exclusive jurisdiction over appeals against JFTC orders; the JFTC’s pre-order proceeding will be further enhanced and more transparent. While the Amended AMA will come into force within a period not exceeding one year and a half from the date of the promulgation of the Amended AMA, we will do our utmost to take actions necessary to make the new system functioning well.
Meanwhile, Article 16 of the Supplementary Provisions attached to the Amended AMA stipulates that the Japanese government shall consider the JFTC’s administrative investigation procedures from a point of view to ensuring that a party concerned with a case defends itself, while maintaining consistency with other administrative procedures in Japan. The government will aim at drawing the conclusion of the consideration within one year in principle from the promulgation of the Amended AMA and will take appropriate measures as necessary. The JFTC will be appropriately engaged in the consideration.
All in all, this year also, the JFTC is determined to do our very best efforts to surely perform its responsibility as a competition authority. We appreciate your continued supports and encouragement.
Chairman of Japan Fair Trade Committee