See More on Facebook

Business, Current affairs

Japanese government to establish organization to keep eye on IT firms

The body will scrutinize financial dealings by tech giants.


Written by

Updated: February 15, 2019

The government is finalizing plans for a new organization dedicated to comprehensively monitoring the business dealings of large IT companies and formulating policies to ensure transparency in their practices.

The new regulator will be established as early as this autumn inside the Cabinet Secretariat.

The Fair Trade Commission likely will be able to conduct unannounced checks on these companies based on information collated by the new organization.

The new body also will consider legislation pertaining to fair business transactions involving large IT companies.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed a meeting of the Council on Investments for the Future to consider how such a specialist organization should operate.

During the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office, Abe called for the establishment of a system free of the vertical divisions among government bodies, which would make it possible to respond swiftly and with expertise to coordinate competition policies in digital marketplaces.

The prime minister chairs this council.

At the forefront of the government’s mind is GAFA — the four U.S. companies of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com.

While these huge companies offer useful services including online shopping and searches, they are crafting an oligopoly in these markets partly due to the personal information they have accumulated.

The new organization’s secretariat will be formed from staff seconded from the commission and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, as well as experts in law, information engineering and other fields.

The government decided that responding to rapidly changing digital markets “would be difficult using only the expertise of existing government regulatory authorities,” a government source said.

In addition to checking whether there are any problematic practices conducted by the large IT companies, the new organization’s functions are expected to include drawing up guidelines and formulating legislation.

It plans to consider a legal framework designed to make their business transactions more transparent, such as by requiring them to disclose important contract conditions. Its structure also will make regulations more effective through surprise checks by the commission.

The new organization also will launch measures in situations when a large IT company purchases a start-up company expected to grow at an early stage and strengthens their dominance by monopolizing data.

A data oligopoly created through the acquisition of startups became a major issue when Facebook bought major messaging app WhatsApp in 2014 for about ¥2 trillion.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Council on Investments for the Future, attendees also discussed the necessity of preparing Antimonopoly Law guidelines and other steps that would allow the Fair Trade Commission to quantify market dominance based on the value of data when it examines the merits of a business merger.

EU sets an example

In 2018, the European Commission — the European Union’s executive arm — established the Observatory on the Online Platform Economy, which started operating in autumn.

It engaged the services of lawyers and university professors from across Europe who were experts in information technology and economics, and initially plans to start work on analyzing contracts involving the large IT companies.

However, moves toward stricter regulations in Europe also have only just started. If the rules are tightened too much, such moves could compromise user convenience.

Japan’s government is preparing to move ahead with the necessary legal framework and other steps, while using the developments in Europe as a reference.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Japan News
About the Author: The Japan News is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the largest circulation in the world.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Business, Current affairs

China releases white paper on Xinjiang

Xinjiang is a controversial Muslim majority province home to vast internment camps built by Beijing. The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has never been a state called “East Turkistan” so the separatist forces’ attempts to incite the Uygurs seeking independence in the name of “East Turkistan” is just a political move to split China, according to a white paper released on Sunday. The State Council Information Office issued the white paper on historical matters concerning Xinjiang. In more recent times, hostile forces in and outside of China, especially separatists, religious extremists and terrorists, have tried to split China and break it apart by distorting history and facts, according to the white paper. Xinjiang was formally included into Chinese territory during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) and the central government of all dynasties maintained jurisdiction ov


By China Daily
July 23, 2019

Business, Current affairs

Nearly 20,000 illegal Nepali workers in Malaysia can return home

Local authorities announce general amnesty. Thousands of Nepali migrant workers, who have violated immigration rules in Malaysia and are liable to legal action, will be able to return home because the Malaysian government has announced a general amnesty scheme for undocumented foreigners. The five-month-long amnesty scheme—called Program Back for Good—will provide illegal foreigners, including thousands of Nepali workers, an opportunity to return to their respective home countries before the Malaysian government cracks down on them and makes arrests. An estimated 15,000-20,000 Nepali migrant workers who are overstaying their visit or are living without valid documents in Malaysia can make use of the latest amnesty. “There is no exact data on the number of Nepali wo


By The Kathmandu Post
July 21, 2019

Business, Current affairs

Dozens die in suspected arson at animation studio in Kyoto

The perpetrator has been arrested. More than two dozen people died when a fire, possibly caused by arson, broke out at a studio managed by animation production company Kyoto Animation Co. in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, on Thursday morning. The Kyoto city fire department initially confirmed that one person had died, but dozens were later found in cardiac arrest inside the three-story building. The Kyoto Prefectural Police later confirmed that 25 people had died. According to the fire department, a nearby resident made an emergency call at about 10:35 a.m., saying they had heard the sound of an explosion. Officials of the prefectural police rushed to the studio and found a man, 41, on a road near the studio. The man told them, “I sprinkled liquid on the first floor and set it on fire.”


By The Japan News
July 19, 2019

Business, Current affairs

Japanese Govt service to provide businesses with quake damage estimates

The paid service will come into effect after major quakes. The government has decided to roll out a paid service that will send notifications of nationwide damage estimates to companies soon after major earthquakes in the Nankai Trough and elsewhere. The National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED) will use the system to estimate earthquake intensities, damage to buildings and fatalities in 250-square-meter sections nationwide. This data will be sent via email to paying businesses within 20 minutes of a quake. It is hoped that providing information on potential damage to factories and clients in situations where phones may not be working will help companies get up and running again quickly. Rapid post-disaster recovery The messages are to be sent out by the Real-time Earthquake & Disaster Informati


By The Japan News
July 18, 2019

Business, Current affairs

Death toll in Mumbai building collapse likely to rise

A massive rescue operation is underway in India. The death toll in the building collapse in India’s financial capital Mumbai rose to 14 on Wednesday as rescue operations continued for the second day after the 100-year-old structure crumbled to the ground under incessant rains on Tuesday.   The death toll is likely to go up further as the rescue operations progress, an official from the Mumbai disaster management cell said. Dozens are still feared trapped in the rubble. At least 40 to 50 people were feared trapped under the debris of the four-storey building in the Dongri locality of Mumbai, local residents said. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is also carrying out rescue and search operations with the help of sniffer dogs. Nine people, including two children, have been rescued so far. Three NDRF teams were joined by the fire


By Ishan Joshi
July 18, 2019

Business, Current affairs

ANN Network editor wins press freedom award

Committee to Protect Journalists honours Editor Dawn Zaffar Abbas with press freedom award. Editor Dawn Zaffar Abbas has been awarded the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) for “extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom”, the body announced on Tuesday. CPJ’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award, previously known as the Burton Benjami Memorial Award, was renamed in 2017 to honour a veteran journalist and former board member who died in 2016. “The award is presented annually to an individual who has shown extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom,” notes the CPJ website. Notable past recipients of the award include


By Dawn
July 17, 2019