Message from Chairman Takeshima

January 10/2007
Japan Fair Trade Commission

 Thank you for visiting the website of the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). I would like to provide a short message, as Chairman of the JFTC, regarding the state of competition policy in Japan and the issues and priorities for the JFTC.

 As you may be aware, the provisions of the amended Antimonopoly Act took effect on January 4, 2006. These included a series of new measures, such as the revised surcharge system, the introduction of a leniency program, the introduction of compulsory measures for criminal investigations, and the revised hearings procedures. With the passage of a year, I believe that the amendments have steadily generated the results that were hoped for. This is particularly true for the leniency program, whose introduction attracted a great deal of debate. Between January 4 and March 31, 2006, a total of 26 applications for leniency were received. Thereafter, we have been receiving four or five applications per month. In September 2006, legal measures were taken in the first leniency case. Since it was concluded that procurement agencies needed to be able to identify the enterprises granted leniency in shortening the period of suspension from participation in bidding by the enterprises, the JFTC, upon request of the enterprises, announced their identities, revealing them to be among Japan's representative major corporations.

 As seen in this case, the amended Antimonopoly Act has had a very large impact on society. Now, we are beginning to see major contracting companies adopting the "Declaration on End to Collusion" as they move away from the systems of "walking hand-in-hand and bid-rigging." The JFTC will continue to utilize the various systems introduced with the amendment of the Antimonopoly Act to actively and effectively counter price cartels and bid-rigging practices, including government facilitated bid-riggings, which have a serious impact on the lives of the people.

 The JFTC will continue to go after price cartels and bid rigging with all of our resources. Moreover, from the perspective of promoting a rule abiding competitive society, we shall keep a close eye on activities that may cause unfair disadvantages to small- and- medium enterprises and to consumers. We believe all of these to constitute important aspects of our mission and responsibility. Specifically, we shall maintain a vigilant lookout for unfair trade practices, including abuse of dominant bargaining position and unjust low price sales, as well as violations of the Subcontract Act and the Premiums and Representations Act. The JFTC is committed to dealing swiftly and effectively with violations.

 With the introduction of the leniency program under the amended Antimonopoly Act and stricter enforcement of the Act and other laws and regulations, measures to promote compliance in order to prevent violations have become increasingly vital for enterprises. We believe that individual enterprises have been undertaking various initiatives to upgrade their compliance systems. On the part of the JFTC, we shall continue to study the current status and problems of corporate compliance systems, and to implement measures designed to promote the development of such systems.

 In recent years, we have seen a marked expansion in international corporate activities and a concurrent increase in cases involving violations of the competition laws of a multiple number of jurisdictions. These developments have heightened the need for the international enforcement activities and the strengthening of international cooperation among competition authorities. Against this backdrop, the JFTC looks forward to promoting international cooperation in competition policies and to bolstering its international presence through such means as establishing bilateral agreements and actively contributing to the international cooperative frameworks of the OECD and the International Competition Network (ICN). As a significant step to expand international cooperation, the JFTC will host the ICN annual conference in 2008. We would like to take such an opportunity to further strengthen cooperation through active exchanges of opinions among competition authorities.

 The JFTC continues to face a broad range of tasks and challenges that must be addressed. These include reviewing of the Guidelines to Application to the Antimonopoly Act Concerning Review of Business Combination, and dealing with the continued review of the Antimonopoly Act by the Antimonopoly Act Basic Issues Study Group of the Cabinet Office.

 In Japan, the year 2007 marks the 60th anniversary of the enforcement of the Antimonopoly Act. The original legislation was enacted in March 1947 by the former Imperial Diet, promulgated in April and enforced beginning in July of the same year. The Antimonopoly Act was enacted so soon after the end of the war, just as the nation was embarking on the creation of a new Japan under the newly adopted Constitution. In a certain sense, the conditions that prevailed in those early days can be said to be very similar to the conditions that exist today as Japan, under the administrations of former Prime Minister Koizumi and now Prime Minister Abe, grapples with the challenges of creating a new Japan for the decades that lie ahead. The JFTC is committed to fully performing its duties and responsibilities in this environment. .

*Every announcement is tentative translation. Please refer to the original text written in Japanese.