Wrestling with Cartels: The Emergence of Competition Laws, Anti-cartel Enforcement and a Leniency Program in Japan

By Michelle Berzins.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A proliferation of cartel conduct occurred in Japan in 1925 when cartels were so favourably looked upon by the government that they were legalised and membership was made compulsory under certain conditions. From that time until 1947, there was no antitrust regulation or legislation operating in Japan, resulting in the country’s industrial history being laden with legally collusive behaviour and a proliferation of cartels. Times have changed, and cartel behaviour is now regarded by many as the most serious violation of antitrust law. Cartels are created and maintained by individuals and companies who calculate how they can generate significant profits from rigging bids and fixing prices. Cartels go against the very notion that an independent business person will in fact act independently, and the impact of such conduct has continued to adversely affect both domestic and international trade figures. It is this realisation of the adverse effects of cartel conduct that has resulted in their condemnation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). This paper traces the history of Japanese competition law enforcement, particularly with regard to cartel conduct. Through an historical account, it is possible to see how the emergence of competition law in Japan has directly challenged the cultural foundations of harmony and cooperation that are inherent to most individuals and to Japanese business practices. At present, these notions of harmony and cooperation are being further challenged by the JFTC’s adoption of a leniency program which encourages individuals to self-report their own illegal cartel conduct and that of others. If the JFTC are serious about eradicating cartel conduct, it is recommended that the agency engage in greater publicity and conduct culturally-appropriate education regarding the provisions of the Antimonopoly Act.

Keywords: Business Practices, Collusion, Competition Law, Japan

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.831KB).

Dr. Michelle Berzins

Tutor, School of Education and Community Studies, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia


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