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- New Law to Regulate Digital Platforms (May 27, 2020)
On May 27, 2020, the Japanese parliament passed the "Act on Improvement of Transparency and Fairness in Trading on Specified Digital Platforms" ( "Act"). The Act was promulgated on June 3, 2020, and will come into effect by June 3, 2021.
Under the Act, digital platformers needing to improve their transparency and fairness in trading are designated as "specified digital platform providers" ("SDPP") by a Cabinet Order. If a platform provider is specified as an SDPP, it will be subject to the following rules, regardless of whether it is a domestic or overseas business:
1) The SDPP will be required to disclose information such as trading terms and conditions;
2) The SDPP will be asked to voluntarily develop procedures and systems for properly addressing requests from platform users, providing goods or services, securing fairness in operating digital platforms, etc.; and
3) The SDPP will be required to submit a report on the results of its self-assessment, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan ("METI") shall assess the report.
Additionally, the Act requires METI to request that the Japan Fair Trade Commission ("JFTC") exercise certain measures under the Antimonopoly Act in Japan ( "AMA") in the event that METI finds any cases suspected of violating the AMA.
- The Act on Exceptions to the Antimonopoly Act Concerning Local Public Transportation and Regional Bank has been passed (May 20, 2020)
On May 20, 2020, the Japanese parliament passed the "Act on Special Provisions of the Act on Prohibition of Private Monopolization and Maintenance of Fair Trade to Maintain Essential Services for Local Residents in Municipalities in Regard to General Passenger Ride-Sharing Motor Carrier Services and Banking Business" ("Act"). The Act was promulgated on May 27, 2020, and will come into effect on November 27, 2020.
Under the Act, (1) mergers carried out by ride-sharing motor carrier service providers or regional banks and (2) agreements on joint management between ride-sharing motor carrier service providers and other ride-sharing motor carrier service providers or public transport operators will be exempt from the relevant provisions of the AMA, if approved by the competent minister having jurisdiction over the respective industry.
- CAA Imposes Surcharge on Philip Morris Japan for Misleading Representations (June 24, 2020)
On June 24, 2020, the Consumer Affairs Agency ( "CAA") ordered Philip Morris Japan LLC. ("Philip Morris") to pay a surcharge of JPY 552.74 million for misleading representations in its advertisements for two types of heated cigarettes called IQOS. This surcharge was the highest ever imposed by the CAA.
Philip Morris's advertising implied that it was offering discounts only to those consumers who purchased the products within a certain period of time. However, Philip Morris was actually continuing to offer the same discounts to customers who purchased the products even after the said period.
- JFTC Approves Cooper Vision Japan Commitment Plan (June 4, 2020)
On June 4, 2020, the JFTC approved a Commitment Plan submitted by Cooper Vision Japan, Inc. As a result, the JFTC decided not to take administrative action against Cooper Vision Japan.
Cooper Vision Japan was raided by the JFTC in June 11, 2019, in relation to the sale of one-day contact lenses and two-week replacement contact lenses based on the suspicion that it had requested that its partner retailers (1) not display the sale price of the above products in advertisements and (2) not sell the above produce on the internet, even if patients received prescriptions from doctors, in order to prevent a price drop. In the Commitment Plan, Cooper Vision Japan agreed not to perform activities (1) and (2).
This was the third publicly announced case in which the JFTC closed the case via a Commitment Plan. The previous two cases involved Rakuten in October 2019 and Nihon Medi-Physics in March 2020.
- Appointment of the New JFTC Chairman (April 17, 2020)
On April 17, 2020, the Diet of Japan approved the nomination of the current Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuyuki Furuya for the next chairman of the JFTC. Kazuyuki Sugimoto, the current JFTC chairman, is set to retire on September 12, 2020. The mandatory retirement age for the position is 70, and the Diet's approval is required for appointment.
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