Forward-looking: The chairman of Japan's Financial Trade Commission publicly announced recently that the FTC would support U.S. and European efforts to hinder anti-competitive behaviour in large, global tech firms, including GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple). Recognizing this behavior as a threat to Japanese consumers as well, Japan has offered assistance in the probe of Google's acquisition of Fitbit, as well as future deals.
The chairman of Japan's FTC, Kazuyuki Furuya, made an interview statement recently that Japan will aid the United States and Europe in efforts to prevent and limit market abuses by the Big Four global tech companies.
This comes as Google offered concessions recently in its $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit. The tech giant announced it would not use Fitbit user data for targeted ads, and it would encourage rival wearable brands and third-party apps to continue using Android's and Fitbit's respective ecosystems.
An antitrust watchdog at the European Commission launched a full investigation into this deal in August, and it is slated to end in early December. Chairman Furuya has offered assistance in the investigation, stating that Japan's FTC could open its own probe if the size of the deal required it.
He went on to say the FTC would work closely with their U.S. and European counterparts to respond to any "moves that hamper competition." Global companies like GAFA currently and regularly face antitrust probes in Western nations. Japan had identified that these platforms operate with a global model and is willing to open its own probes to hinder anti-competitive behavior that might harm consumers.
The commission has also announced it will conduct research into Japan's mobile market in hopes of spurring competition. The country's Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, who came to party prominence after Shinzo Abe resigned in September, has pushed to lower mobile phone charges in response to consistent criticism over the Japanese mobile market.
The FTC is an independent body and has come under fire for putting pressure on mobile firms when this move could bolster Suga's political standing. He argues that their priorities have simply aligned, and by stepping into the fray, his commission can more easily share its research and advice. “By participating in the government’s debate on policy issues, we have been reflecting our thinking in the process," says Furuya. "This is something our organization should do.”
Image credit: Dado Ruvic