U.S. tech giants air concerns over Japan's IT regulation bill

©Kyodo News

Representatives of U.S. digital giants expressed concerns Tuesday over a planned bill in Japan aimed at regulating global and domestic information technology companies amid concerns about their growing monopolies.

At a hearing involving senior officials of Google LLC, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., collectively known as GAFA, the companies expressed their understanding that the bill is required to enhance transparency in their business transactions, a government official told reporters.

But some voiced worries, with Adam Cohen, Google's global head of economics and competition, airing concerns about Japan's request for regular reports on GAFA businesses, the official said.

"While the government will present the outline of steps to ensure transparency in business transactions (in the bill), voluntary measures are expected to be taken (by those companies) to improve their transaction environment," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at the hearing, part of which was open to the media.

The government has already heard the views of domestic information technology firms Rakuten Inc. and Yahoo Japan Corp.

It plans to submit the bill to the ordinary Diet session to be convened in January next year amid concerns some IT giants are able to stifle fair competition due to their overwhelming market shares.

They are often criticized for disadvantaging smaller business partners by unilaterally forcing on them contract terms and rules, and having them shoulder excessive costs.

The envisioned legislation will oblige such IT firms to make contract terms public and explain their reasoning when refusing deals.