Private Antitrust Actions in Japan

Kazunori Furuya, Mitsuo Matsushita, Apr 16, 2013

The Japanese Antimonopoly Law (hereafter referred to as “JAML”) was enacted in 1947 as part of the Economic Democratization Policy introduced into Japan by the Occupation Forces. Originally it was based on U.S. antitrust laws but, after more than 60 years of enforcement, JAML has acquired features unique to Japan such as the control of dominant position designed to protect small enterprises such as subcontractors and small dealers vis-à-vis large producers and dealers which tend to abuse their superior bargaining positions to the disadvantage of the smaller entities. The major pillars of JAML are the prohibition of: (a) of monopolization, (b) cartels and (c) unfair business practices and, in addition, (d) the control of mergers and acquisitions.

Private monopolization is roughly similar to monopolization under Section 2 of the Sherman Act in the United States and abuse of dominant positions in the European Union. Cartels are generally prohibited in Japan just like in the United States, European Union, and elsewhere. The control of mergers and acquisitions is similar to the counterparts in other major jurisdictions.

Unfair business practices (or unfair trade practices) are a category unique to JAML. It is provided for in Article 2:9 of JAML. According to this article, unfair business practices are those conducts which tend to impede fair competition and include: (1) boycott (collective refusals to supply which include prim…

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