The Public Competition Enforcement Review: Japan

Overview

The year 2021 was a busy one for the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). It actively engaged in enforcement in a number of areas while international and domestic economic activities were on the path to recovery from the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

Anti-cartel enforcement activity under the Act on Prohibition of Private Monopolisation and Maintenance of Fair Trade (AMA) has been an important part of the JFTC's enforcement efforts. Active enforcement was carried out against domestic cartels, mainly for bid rigging and price-fixing in various industries. It was remarkable that dawn raids were implemented in a number of cartel investigations, particularly in the electric power industry and the pharmaceutical wholesale industry, which also shows recovery trends from covid-19 among JFTC's enforcement practices. On the other hand, actual enforcements in investigations under revised leniency regimes and newly introduced attorney–client privilege regimes have yet to be seen.

The JFTC has recently been focusing on enforcement in the information technology (IT) industry, particularly enforcements against digital platforms – a trend that developed significantly in the past year. The investigations carried out in relation to alleged unfair trade practices by Apple (restrictive conditions) and Rakuten (abuse of a superior bargaining position) were particularly remarkable. Moreover, in various cases, the JFTC employed novel proceedings, distinct from the commitment procedures that have rapidly been prevailing as the standard practice, although it is not certain whether the new proceedings will be employed frequently in future enforcements.

The JFTC also maintained a steady level of enforcement in merger control. Although the number of total transaction notifications, transaction notifications involving foreign companies and limited cases reviewed in Phase II remained stable, a clearance decision involving remedies was issued in multiple cases. Moreover, it was observed that the JFTC cautiously scrutinised cases involving the digital sector and those potentially affecting new technologies.

On the policy side, the JFTC continued to contribute actively to the Japanese government's trans-agency efforts to promote competition and innovation in digital markets and implement multiple market inquiries.

Cartels

Cartels and bid rigging, still among the JFTC's top priorities, are prohibited by the AMA under the category of 'Unreasonable Restraint of Trade'.

The JFTC may issue a cease-and-desist order or a surcharge (administrative fine) payment order, or both, by way of administrative sanctions for violations of the AMA, including violations of Unreasonable Restraint of Trade. Cease-and-desist orders aim to stop illegal acts, restore an appropriate competitive environment, and prevent a recurrence of these violations of the AMA by ordering the relevant party or parties to cease the actions in question and to take preventive measures. Moreover, surcharges may be imposed in cases involving cartels and bid rigging.

The JFTC did not issue any cease-and-desist orders for cartel or bid-rigging cases in 2021, although it is reported to have conducted several dawn raids for suspected cases related to domestic markets. The authority continues to maintain a close relationship with competition agencies in other jurisdictions as well in respect of international cartels.

The JFTC has a policy of seeking criminal penalties in cases that (1) it considers serious or having a widespread impact on consumer welfare, and (2) involve firms or industries that are repeat offenders or that have not complied with administrative measures issued by the JFTC.2 The JFTC did not file any criminal charges in 2021. Its latest charge filed was in December 2020 against three pharmaceutical wholesalers and their employees over their alleged bid rigging involving drugs purchased by the Japan Community Healthcare Organisation (JCHO). The three companies were each issued with a fine of ¥250 million, as discussed further below.

i Significant cases

Trial decisions on cartels by manufacturers of cardboard products

On 10 February 2021, the JFTC largely upheld its cease-and-desist and surcharge payment orders issued in relation to two cases in 2014 against cardboard product manufacturers. The trials for the two cases were conducted in accordance with the JFTC's appellate procedure under the old AMA, before the 2013 amendment that abolished the JFTC's trials for future appeals cases.3 In one case, 62 manufacturers were found to have agreed to raise sales prices of cardboard sheets and 63 manufacturers (the same 62 manufacturers and one other) agreed to raise sales prices of cardboard boxes (Case One). In the other case, five manufacturers were penalised for agreeing to increase the sale prices or the processing charges for cardboard cases for a specific market of users (Case Two).

Of those issued with the cease-and-desist and surcharge payment orders in 2014, 37 companies, including Rengo Co, Ltd (Rengo) and Tomoku Co, Ltd (Tomoku), appealed the judgment in Case One for the following reasons: (1) the absence of an illegal arrangement; (2) the lack of substantial restraint on the relevant market; (3) the illegality of the cease-and desist orders; and (4) objection to the JFTC's initial calculation of the surcharges. Rengo and Tomoku were the only appellants in Case Two and their reasons for appeal were the same as those for Case One, although the specific facts of the two cases differ.

The JFTC's partial revocation of its decision resulted from changes in the base calculation of surcharges. Surcharges are calculated by multiplying the prices of products or services that were subject to the unreasonable restraint of trade (i.e., cartel conduct or bid rigging) by the statutory rates. The JFTC reviewed its calculation from the viewpoints of the period affected by the illegal arrangement, the scope of products upon which to base the calculation of sales and the applicable statutory rates. As an outcome, the deduction of the surcharges did not amount to much in comparison with the total surcharges that the appellants were subject to in Case One and Case Two. For example, Rengo was fined ¥107,044 million for Case Two in 2014 and its fine was reduced by ¥286 million under the February 2021 decision. It has been reported that Rengo and Tomoku have both appealed their cases, so the February 2021 decision by the JFTC has not yet been finalised for the two companies.

Criminal case on bid rigging by pharmaceutical wholesale companies

On 30 June 2021, the Tokyo District Court fined three pharmaceutical wholesale companies – Alfresa Corporation (Alfresa); Suzuken Co, Ltd (Suzuken); and Toho Pharmaceutical Co, Ltd (Toho) – ¥250 million each for their conduct in bid rigging and price negotiations for the sale of drugs to JCHO in 2016 and 2018. Seven former executives of the three companies were sentenced to between 18 and 24 months' imprisonment, suspended for a term of three years.

Back in December 2020, the JFTC filed criminal accusations with the Public Prosecutor General against the three pharmaceutical companies and the seven executives involved.4 The case came to light because of the 28 November 2019 dawn raid against the three companies and Mediceo Corporation (Mediceo) by the JFTC, and later the 13 October 2020 dawn raid, which was jointly conducted by the JFTC and the special investigation unit of the Public Prosecutors' Office. Mediceo is reported to have been the first applicant for leniency in the case and the JFTC refrained from filing criminal charges against it.

The JFTC's Secretary General had commented that bid rigging in relation to necessities such as drugs has a serious and widespread impact on consumer welfare. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare had to eliminate the sales data of the relevant purchases by the JCHO from its calculation basis of the market prices of drugs, which are used in the medical payment revision system once every two years. The Tokyo District Court was in consensus with the JFTC's Secretary General, stating in its reasons for the sentence that the affected bid price of ¥140 billion is considerable and that despite the defendants' low profit rate, the impact of the defendants' conduct on Japanese nationals was considerable.

The court also pointed out the defendants' 'deep-rooted' nature to rig bids, foreshadowing the events later in the year. In November 2021, the JFTC raided six pharmaceutical wholesalers in the Kyusyu region, including Alfresa, subsidiaries of Suzuken, Toho and Mediceo.

ii Trends, developments and strategies

Dawn raids

The media has reported a number of dawn raids by the JFTC in 2021. On 13 April, the JFTC conducted dawn raids on Kansai Electric Power Co, Inc (Kansai Electric); Chubu Electric Power Co, Inc (Chubu Electric); Chugoku Electric Power Co, Inc (Chugoku Electric); Chubu Electric Power Miraiz Co, Inc (Chubu Miraiz); and Toho Gas Co, Ltd (Toho Gas). On 13 July, it targeted Kansai Electric; Chugoku Electric; Kyushu Electric Power Co, Inc (Kyushu Electric); and a subsidiary of Kyusyu Electric. And on 5 October, it targeted Chubu Electric, Chubu Miraiz and Toho Gas. The JFTC has also led dawn raids in industries other than utilities, including healthcare, as mentioned previously with regard to pharmaceutical wholesale companies in the Kyushu region. The covid-19 pandemic has not stopped the authorities from conducting dawn raids, but it now takes longer to conduct investigations, including interviews with relevant personnel. This trend is likely to continue throughout 2022.

Spotlight on energy companies

More than five years have passed since the liberalisation of gas and electricity in Japan. As explained above, the JFTC launched a series of investigations into whether market liberalisation has been impeded by the major players in the utilities market. So far, the investigation has been targeted towards utilities in the region west of the central region in Japan, namely the Chubu, Kansai and Kyushu areas. The JFTC has made no announcements yet on the findings from the dawn raids or the applications for the revised leniency programme by the parties.

iii Outlook

The amendments to the AMA, which came into full force in December 2020, include the revised leniency programme in which the reduction rate of the surcharges is determined based on the applicant's level of cooperation with the JFTC's investigations, the revised surcharge calculation basis and increased fines for interfering with investigations. Moreover, the new attorney–client privilege was introduced under the JFTC regulations and guidelines.

There has not been any actual enforcement reported whereby the JFTC investigates and imposes penalties under the revised leniency programme, as well as the new attorney–client privilege.

Antitrust: restrictive agreements and dominance

The JFTC took notable enforcement action in a number of non-cartel cases, namely those involving unfair trade practices such as restrictive conditions and abuse of a superior bargaining position, particularly in the IT and digital sectors. The JFTC has expressed strong concerns about major companies in the IT sector, as well as about the activities of online platforms. Investigations in this sector included probes into alleged conduct by Rakuten on suspicion of infringing the AMA by abusing a superior bargaining position.

In 2021, there were only two cases where the JFTC closed the investigation under the commitment procedures, which were introduced in December 2018 under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, compared with five cases in 2020. Of the two cases, one related to abuse of a superior bargaining position and the other to restrictive conditions. As is the new trend, there were three cases in 2021 where the JFTC closed the investigation after accepting the voluntary measures proposed by the party involving the alleged conduct rather than under the commitment procedures. The JFTC has not provided clear guidance on the distinction between the commitment procedures and the proposal of voluntary measures, and it has stated that it will take the most appropriate measures to promptly resolve anticompetitive issues and restore competition.

With regard to the cease-and-desist order5 and surcharge payment order6 that the JFTC issued against Mainami Aviation Services Co Ltd for anticompetitive conduct that it deemed private monopolisation, which is prohibited under the AMA, the company filed a lawsuit in court in 2021 to cancel the orders, arguing that the alleged conduct was a result of safety and quality control and that it did not intend to exclude its competitors. A cease-and-desist order for private monopolisation is not often issued. The most recent order was issued in 2009. This is also the first case where the JFTC imposed surcharges for an exclusionary type of private monopolisation. The court is expected to deliver a verdict in 2022.

i Significant cases

Cases closed under the commitment procedures

One of the cases that was closed under the commitment procedures and that involved abuse of a superior bargaining position was an investigation into BMW Japan. BMW Japan was suspected of abusive conduct, including requesting its dealers to set unreachable sales targets and forcing them to purchase the cars before selling them to customers. The commitment proposed by BMW Japan included cessation of the alleged anticompetitive conduct, issuing notice to dealers and employees about the cessation, and conducting training for employees. Moreover, the company proposed preparing guidelines regarding the sales targets of dealers that would be set based on discussions with dealers, and setting up an external contact to which dealers can report any anticompetitive conduct by the company. Having accepted the commitment plan, the JFTC closed the case in March 20217 and did not rule on whether BMW Japan's alleged conduct was an infringement of the AMA. Accordingly, no sanctions (nor a cease-and-desist order) were imposed on BMW Japan.

In addition, the JFTC approved in March the commitments proposed by a contact lens manufacturer. The JFTC raided three contact lens manufacturers in June 2019 on suspicion that they had requested retailers of their disposable contact lenses not to display the retail prices in their advertisements and not to sell the lenses online to customers who had a prescription. Although the manufacturers' alleged conduct may be deemed restrictive and a type of unfair trade practice prohibited by the AMA, two of them proposed commitment plans, which the JFTC accepted in June and November 2020.8 The remaining company also proposed a commitment plan that included ceasing the alleged anticompetitive conduct; giving notice to retailers, customers and employees about the cessation; and conducting training for employees.9

Cases closed by accepting voluntary measures

The JFTC closed three cases in 2021 after accepting the voluntary measures proposed by the suspected companies, rather than accepting their commitment plans under the commitment procedures.

One of the cases was an investigation into Apple. The JFTC suspected that Apple might restrict business activities of app developers under the App Store Review Guidelines (the Guidelines) whereby app developers were required to use a specific payment system for sales of digital content within the app, and the app developers were charged a fee for using the payment system. Although app users can purchase digital content via other distribution channels, including app developers' websites, the requirement under the Guidelines might restrict app developers from selling digital content via channels other than the Apple-designated payment system. This conduct might be deemed a restrictive condition or private monopolisation, which are prohibited under the AMA. Apple voluntarily proposed to change the Guidelines to allow developers of reader apps to include an in-app link to their websites and to address uncertainty in the Guidelines and the reasons for rejecting apps. Having accepted the voluntary measures, the JFTC closed the case in September 2021.10

Another case was an investigation against Rakuten, one of the biggest online mall operators in Japan, on suspicion of abuse of a superior bargaining position. In February 2020, the JFTC filed a petition to the court for an urgent injunction order against Rakuten's planned free shipping services programmes,11 which was withdrawn after Rakuten announced its decision to postpone the uniform introduction of the programmes. Under the free shipping services programmes, customers who spent ¥3,980 or more in Rakuten's online mall would get free shipping, with suppliers bearing the shipping costs. The JFTC continued the investigation after the withdrawal of the petition and found that Rakuten forced some merchants to join the programme by implying a disadvantage (for instance, the products of merchants that did not join the plan were ranked lower in search results). In response to the JFTC's investigation, Rakuten proposed voluntary measures, including that Rakuten would respect merchants' decision as to whether or not to join the programme and would not impose any disadvantage on non-joiners. The JFTC concluded that Rakuten's proposed measures would resolve its concerns and decided to close the investigation in December 2021.12

Moreover, in December 2021, the JFTC closed its investigation into a platform operator providing funeral services after it accepted the proposed voluntary measures.13 Although the JFTC did not clearly state the background and reasons for its decisions on the three cases, the JFTC's Secretary General said that the JFTC decided to accept the companies' voluntary proposals because that was most appropriate to promptly resolve the anticompetitive issues and restore competition.

ii Trends, developments and strategies

Digital Platform Transaction Transparency Act

A new law affecting digital markets, the Act on Improvement of Transparency and Fairness in Trading on Specified Digital Platforms (the Digital Platform Transaction Transparency Act), came into force on 1 February 2021.

Because of the heightened necessity of ensuring that these platforms operate with transparency and fairness, only a limited number of overseas and domestic digital platforms, called 'specified DPFs', are subject to regulation. More concretely, only large-scale online mall operators (whose total domestic sales in Japan and those of its users exceed ¥300 billion) and app stores (whose total domestic sales in Japan and those of its users exceed ¥200 billion) are initially defined as specified DPFs. Digital platform operators that meet the thresholds submitted notifications, and the relevant authority designated five overseas and domestic platform operators, including Amazon, Rakuten, Apple and Google, as specified DPF providers based on the notifications.14

Specified DPFs are required to disclose the terms and conditions of their contracts with users and provide prior notice of revisions to those terms and conditions. They are also required to take other measures, including establishing procedures and administrative systems, pursuant to the policies promulgated by the relevant ministry. Moreover, specified DPFs are required to submit to the ministry regular reports on the implementation status of the above measures, which will be used to review and assess conduct.

Administrative measures (recommendations, public announcements and orders to take action) will be taken against specified DPF providers that fail to disclose information on the terms and conditions of transactions or to voluntarily develop the required procedures and systems. Fines may be imposed for failure to comply with these measures or to submit the reports. Moreover, if the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry finds any conduct deemed likely to violate the AMA, it will request the JFTC to take measures under the AMA.

Act on the Protection of Consumers Using Transaction-type Digital Platforms

The bill for the Act on the Protection of Consumers Using Transaction-type Digital Platforms (DP Consumer Protection Act) was enacted on 28 April 2021 and was promulgated on 10 May 2021. The Act will come into force after relevant rules and regulations are prepared, within one year of promulgation.

The DP Consumer Protection Act newly defines 'transaction-type digital platforms', which are types of digital platforms (as defined in the Digital Platform Transaction Transparency Act) that provide a site with the following: (1) a function allowing consumers to make an order of a product or service via computer, based on instructions displayed; and (2) a function allowing consumers to participate in auctions of a product or service and other transactions specified in the ordinance via computer, based on instructions displayed.

Under the DP Consumer Protection Act, providers of transaction-type digital platforms have a duty to make the following efforts: (1) to take measures that allow consumers to communicate smoothly with the seller; (2) to take measures necessary to secure the appropriateness of the advertisements and descriptions when consumers make a claim; and (3) to request sellers to provide identification information. Providers of transaction-type digital platforms are obligated to disclose the voluntary measures taken. The DP Consumer Protection Act also establishes a mechanism for consumers to request the disclosure of sellers' information where consumers resort to court procedures in cases of dispute.

iii Outlook

Scrutiny of digital markets is likely to continue throughout 2022. Under the Digital Platform Transaction Transparency Act, the competent authority will monitor and review platforms' activities based on a report to be submitted by specified DPFs. The JFTC also announced in July 2021 the appointment of experts as 'digital special advisers' who will support the JFTC in its activities, including market studies and market research in this sector.

Sectoral competition: market investigations and regulated industries

The JFTC conducts several market studies and publishes reports on digital markets, including digital advertising and the data market,15 as well as algorithms and artificial intelligence.16 Although the JFTC did not find any specific anticompetitive conduct in the market studies, it did flag a number of potential cases of anticompetitive conduct and have made the relevant parties aware.

i Significant cases

Market research on digital advertising

In February 2021, the JFTC published a market research report regarding digital advertising.17 The JFTC conducted a questionnaire survey of related businesses, including advertisers, advertising agencies and media companies, and consumers, and interviewed related businesses and digital platform operators such as Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter. The JFTC indicated potential competition law issues regarding abuse of a superior bargaining position that digital platform operators might have against business partners, as well as other unfair trade practices, such as interference with competitors' transactions.

The Headquarters for Digital Market Competition, which was established in the Cabinet Secretariat in 2019 to promote competition and innovation in the digital sector, also analysed the digital advertising market and published a report in April 2021. The report indicated that rules would be necessary to address the issues related to digital advertising, and the relevant authorities are considering making the digital advertising market subject to the Digital Platform Transaction Transparency Act.

ii Trends, developments and strategies

In response to the results of market studies, the JFTC generally publishes related guidelines. In 2021, the guidelines on collaboration with start-up businesses18 and the revised guidelines on franchising businesses19 were released following market studies in 2020 regarding start-up businesses20 and franchising businesses in the convenience stores sector.21

iii Outlook

As mentioned, the JFTC carefully scrutinises digital markets. It has been conducting market research on cloud services and the mobile operating systems market, and the related reports are expected to be published in 2022. Moreover, the JFTC is monitoring other sectors and might also conduct surveys or market research on these sectors if necessary.

State aid

The issue of state aid is not applicable in the Japanese jurisdiction since there is no equivalent regulatory framework for this in Japan other than special measures taken under government policy.

Merger review

The number of merger filings at the JFTC has been relatively stable, with only a slight decrease compared with the immediately preceding year. From April 2020 to March 2021 (FY 2021), the JFTC accepted 266 notifications – of which 258 were cleared in Phase I (including 199 with early termination), seven were voluntarily withdrawn by the parties and one was brought into Phase II. In terms of the competitive landscape between the parties, 176 involved horizontal overlaps, 118 involved vertical relationships and 125 involved conglomerate business combinations.

Effective use of pre-notification consultation with the JFTC was key to the high Phase I clearance rate. Parties may benefit from informal discussions with the authority during the pre-notification phase, which often extends to substantive competition issues. Sometimes, the parties discuss and agree on remedies to obtain conditional clearance during Phase I.

The JFTC is also keen to employ economic analysis in complex cases. Out of 10 notable decisions published by the authority in FY 2021, four involved the use of economic analysis.

i Significant cases

Fukui Bank's acquisition of Fukuho Bank22

In June 2021, the JFTC unconditionally approved the share acquisition by The Fukui Bank, Ltd (Fukui Bank) of The Fukuho Bank, Ltd (Fukuho Bank). Similarly to its decision on the acquisition by Fukuoka Financial Group, Ltd of The Eighteenth Bank, Ltd back in August 2018, the JFTC defined the relevant product market of business loans per category of customers – namely larger enterprises, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and local public bodies – on the grounds that size and method of transactions are considered distinctive. Regarding business loans for SMEs, the authority further recognised separate geographical markets for each of the seven economic zones within Fukui Prefecture.

Despite the parties' combined market share of 35 to 50 per cent, which brought them to the top in each of these zones, the JFTC ultimately concluded that the proposed acquisition would not substantially restrain competition in consideration of the presence of major competitors and their excess capacity in terms of both funds and human resources.

Integration of salesforce.com and Slack Technologies23

In July 2021, the JFTC unconditionally approved the integration of salesforce.com, Inc (Salesforce) and Slack Technologies, Inc (Slack). Salesforce provides customer relationship management software, whereas Slack provides business chat services. Both services aim to improve efficiency of business and communications, and are therefore complementary.

The JFTC raised the following potential competition concerns: (1) exclusion of competitors by refusing access to the application programming interface; (2) bundling of the parties' products and services; and (3) exchange of confidential information of one party's customer with another who competes with that customer. The scrutiny concluded that the parties have no incentive to engage in such exclusion and bundling, which incidentally would seriously conflict with the core value of their business (i.e., to be 'best of breed'). Similarly, the parties' businesses were found to be unlikely to involve exchanges of confidential information with one another. That said, the potential concerns were eliminated and the JFTC unconditionally approved the proposed integration.

GlobalWafers' acquisition of Siltronic24

In November 2021, the JFTC unconditionally approved the share acquisition by GlobalWafers GmbH (GW) of Siltronic AG (Siltronic). During the review, the authority focused on the parties' material horizontal overlap in five segments of silicon wafers, which was defined by the matrix of production method, radius and finishing method.

The JFTC placed importance on the competitive pressure from competitors (including the possibility of new entrants) as well as the strong bargaining power of customers. It also employed an economic analysis tool called Cournot CMCR, which returned indices below the threshold of competition concern in two of five segments and above the threshold in the remainder. However, the JFTC did not take the result of the economic analysis alone as the decisive factor and ultimately concluded that the proposed acquisition would not substantially restrain competition.

ii Trends, developments and strategies

Exemption for regional banks and bus operators

To facilitate survival of regional banks and bus operators from difficulties caused by the population's decrease, temporary legislation (for a period of 10 years) took effect in November 2020 to exempt mergers and joint operations between regional banks and bus operators from the merger control regulation, on the conditions that (1) the parties would be unable to survive without the proposed merger or joint operation, and (2) there is no concern that the parties would unreasonably increase prices or otherwise cause disadvantages to customers. The competent regulatory authority and the JFTC are supposed to jointly review the eligibility for the exemption and monitor the parties' behaviour following the transaction.

In 2021, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT) approved three proposed joint operations of regional bus operators in Kumamoto,25 Okayama26 and Maebashi,27 respectively. Each joint operation enabled the operators to effectively coordinate the competing routes and their frequency.

The first case for regional banks is likely to be the proposed integration of The Aomori Bank, Ltd and The Michinoku Bank, Ltd. Both are major regional banks in Aomori Prefecture, and their combined market share is around 70 per cent. The parties have presumably decided to seek an exemption because the regular review by the JFTC would have taken longer or required remedies, or both.

iii Outlook

The JFTC appears keen on using economic analysis where it finds it appropriate. Although available statistics are limited, four out of 10 notable decisions in financial year 2021 involved economic analysis, up from two in the previous year. Further, the JFTC has announced the introduction of a new position of director in charge of economic analysis,28 which is thought to be in line with this trend for economic analysis.

Conclusions

Under the leadership of JFTC's chair, Kazuyuki Furuya, the focus on rigorous enforcement of the AMA and promoting competition policy that meets economic and social criteria has been reaping the desired results. It is expected that the focus on cartel enforcements, merger control enforcements and enforcements in digital markets will continue throughout 2022. In the area of cartel enforcements, it is expected that the practical impact of the new leniency regimes and attorney–client privilege will be clarified through actual cases going forward. As for digital markets, the movement towards further-strengthened enforcements, including consideration of new ex ante regulations, should attract attention.

Footnotes

1 Junya Ae and Michio Suzuki are partners, Ryo Yamaguchi is a senior associate and Lisa Nagao is an associate at Baker & McKenzie (Gaikokuho Joint Enterprise).

2 'The Fair Trade Commission's Policy on Criminal Accusation and Compulsory Investigation of Criminal Cases Regarding Antimonopoly Violations', the JFTC, revised 16 December 2020, p. 1.

3 Under the amended AMA, appeal suits pertaining to cease-and-desist orders and surcharge orders are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tokyo District Court. See the JFTC press release of 9 December 2013 (https://www.jftc.go.jp/en/pressreleases/yearly-2013/Dec/individual131209.html).

4 See the JFTC press release of 9 December 2020 (https://www.jftc.go.jp/en/pressreleases/yearly-2020/December/201209.html).

12 See JFTC press release of 6 December 2021 (https:// www.jftc.go.jp/en/pressreleases/yearly-2021/December/211206.html).

13 See JFTC press release of 2 December 2021 (https:// www.jftc.go.jp/en/pressreleases/yearly-2021/December/211202.html).

14 See the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) press release of 1 April 2021 (https://www.meti.go.jp/english/press/2021/0401_001.html).

18 See JFTC press release of 29 March 2021 (https://www.jftc.go.jp/houdou/pressrelease/2021/mar/210329.html), which is available only in Japanese.

19 See JFTC press release of 28 April 2021 (https://www.jftc.go.jp/houdou/pressrelease/2021/apr/210428fcgl.html), which is available only in Japanese.

20 See JFTC press release of 27 November 2020 (https://www.jftc.go.jp/houdou/pressrelease/2020/nov/201127pressrelease.html), which is available only in Japanese.

21 See JFTC press release of 2 September 2020 (https://www.jftc.go.jp/houdou/pressrelease/2020/sep/200902_1.html), which is available only in Japanese.

25 See MLIT press release of 19 March 2021 (https://www.mlit.go.jp/report/press/sogo12_hh_000213.html).

26 See MLIT press release of 25 March 2021 (https://www.mlit.go.jp/report/press/sogo12_hh_000216.html).

27 See MLIT press release of 27 September 2021 (https://www.mlit.go.jp/report/press/sogo12_hh_000235.html).

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