The Japanese government is reportedly launching an antitrust investigation into deals Apple and Google have made with the country’s smartphone makers, The Japan Times and other news outlets reported, citing a report in Nikkei. The probe could lead to stronger antitrust regulations.
A government panel in Japan is anticipated to begin discussions on the issue this month, given that 90 percent of Japanese smartphones use Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android software, Nikkei reported. The panel — composed of government officials, bureaucrats and outside experts — will seek input from handset makers in the country as well as smart speaker manufacturers and PC developers. The panel is expected to take a look at the Japanese business landscape to determine whether the deals are comparable with what happens on a global level.
Japan announced in June of 2020 that it was collaborating with the U.S. and Europe to tackle suspected market abuses by the Big Tech companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Amazon. The move was interpreted as a sign that Tokyo would align with global efforts to regulate digital platforms.
“If the size of any merger or business tie-up is big, we can launch an anti-monopoly investigation into the buyer’s process of acquiring a startup,” Kazuyuki Furuya, chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, had told Reuters at the time, per the Business Standard. “We’re closely watching developments including in Europe.”
Five antitrust bill drafts are being introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives related to Big Tech and antitrust issues. Four of the five bills are targeting the influence of tech firms and could be launched sometime this month.
The European Union (EU) in March hit Apple with antitrust violations that originated with Spotify’s allegations. The accusations are part of an international issue concerning fees for app downloads and Apple’s 30 percent commission.