Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by John Duns, Arlen Duke and Brendan Sweeney
This chapter gives an overview of competition law in Japan, with a particular focus on recent case law and developments. Brick-sized handbooks have been written about Japan’s competition law in Japanese and condensing that scholarship in a single chapter inevitably means that some issues do not get the attention they deserve. We have nonetheless attempted to touch upon most major aspects of competition law in Japan, including its: (1) historical background, (2) substantive rules, and (3) enforcement mechanisms. We also discuss (4) the application of Japanese competition law to cross-border cases. Finally, we (5) reflect on the role and awareness of competition law in Japan and conclude (6). Competition law was introduced in Japan at the behest of the United States (US) occupation authorities after the Second World War. The 1947 Antimonopoly Act has been amended repeatedly but is still the relevant statute. Initially, competition law faced skepticism and hostility and played only a minor role in Japanese society. In the 1950s and 1960s, it conflicted with Japan’s industrial policy, which favored cartels as a means to rationalize production. Enforcement in that period was anemic. There was a revival in the 1970s, when the oil crisis wreaked havoc on the Japanese economy, but the momentum was lost again in the 1980s. At the end of the 1980s, however, Japan came under intense pressure from abroad to enforce its competition laws more strictly.