The Chairman of the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Kazuhiko Takeshima, stepped down from his position at the end of September, having completed his term. An acting chairman, Michiyo Hamada, will lead the agency until Japan’s Diet takes steps to choose a successor. During this interim period, it should be expected that the JFTC will not initiate or take action on significant matters.
Mr. Takeshima served as JFTC Chairman since 2002. His tenure was marked by revisions that made Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Law more strict. Mr. Takeshima advocated revisions to the last that have greatly increased penalties and expanded the offenses subject to penalty, including partial acts of private monopoly and unfair trade practices.
He pursued international cartels vigorously and also established a leniency policy to encourage disclosure of cartel activity. On the merger side, he introduced a system of premerger notification. Mr. Takeshima increased awareness of compliance with the Anti-Monopoly act in Japanese corporate society and advocated the importance of competition policy, saying, "there is no growth without competition policy."
Mr. Takeshima also focused attention on enhancing the international presence of the Japan Fair Trade Commission. He served as Vice Chair of the International Competition Network (ICN) from 2007, built cooperative bilateral relationships with the U.S. and EU and worked to establish meetings on competition policy among the heads of competition related authorities in East Asia.
The absence of Mr. Takeshima, coupled with another vacancy, leaves the JFTC with only three members: Michiyo Hamada (former professor of Nagoya University Graduate School of Law), Hiroyuki Odagiri (former professor of Hitotsubashi University Graduate School), and Hideo Makuta (former public prosecutor of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office). Although these commissioners and the JFTC staff will continue their work, the JFTC may refrain from taking significant actions until a new chairman is installed.