Who Rules Japan?

Who Rules Japan?

Popular Participation in the Japanese Legal Process

Edited by Leon Wolff, Luke Nottage and Kent Anderson

The dramatic growth of the Japanese economy in the postwar period, and its meltdown in the 1990s, has attracted sustained interest in the power dynamics underlying the management of Japan’s administrative state. Scholars and commentators have long debated over who wields power in Japan, asking the fundamental question: who really governs Japan? This important volume revisits this question by turning its attention to the regulation and design of the Japanese legal system. With essays covering the new lay-judge system in Japanese criminal trials, labour dispute resolution panels, prison policy, gendered justice, government lawyers, welfare administration and administrative transparency, this comprehensive book explores the players and processes in Japan’s administration of justice.

Chapter 7: Competition law in Japan: the rise of private enforcement by litigious reformers

Souichirou Kozuka

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law, politics and public policy, public policy


The Antimonopoly Act (AMA) (No. 54 of 1947), the regulatory centrepiece of Japanese competition law, offers an interesting litmus test of the role of law and courts in Japanese society. Though it has been in existence since 1947, the AMA has languished as a result of insufficient enforcement during most of the post-war period – so much so that commentators doubted that it was equipped with the necessary ‘teeth’ (Taylor, 2003, p._140). A book published as late as 2000 described the Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), the government agency in charge of the AMA, as ‘anything but a strong, autonomous agency’ (Schaede, 2000, p._108). Judicial enforcement of the AMA, in the form of private damages suits, has been ‘ignored’ or largely non-existent (Ramseyer, 1983, pp._418–23; Haley, 1984, pp._501–4; Ramseyer, 1985, p. 627; First, 1995, pp._177–8; Fry, 2001, pp._852–3). The JFTC started to escalate its enforcement efforts in the early 1990s, ostensibly under pressure from the United States government through the Structural Impediments Initiative (SII) negotiations (First, 1995, pp._163–73; see generally Matsushita, 1991; Johnson, 1995, chapter 4). Still, scholars argued that the enforcement of the AMA in Japan differed from antitrust measures in the United States in two respects. First, the JFTC, as the only enforcer of the law, held a concentration of enforcement power. Second, the JFTC’s regulatory style was more ‘bureaucratic’ (that is, focused on the structure of the national economy as a whole), rather than ‘legalistic’ (geared to remedying the harm incurred in individual cases) (First, 1995, pp._174–5; First and Shiraishi, 2007, pp._529–30).

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