FTC hopes to keep law revision tight

The nation’s antimonopoly watchdog said Feb. 27 it will minimize room for administrative discretion when it revises the Antimonopoly Law to legalize the formation of holding companies.

Yasuchika Negoro, head of the Fair Trade Commission, made the remark during a luncheon speech at a Tokyo hotel two days after the ruling coalition finalized its proposal to lift a 50-year-old ban on holding companies. With the coalition’s decision Feb. 25, the FTC is now in position to draft a bill to revise the law and its related guidelines. “We will try to make both the wording of the law and the guidelines as specific as possible to minimize room for administrative discretion,” he said.

At the same time, however, he said that there will inevitably be limitations on the amount of specific detail because the Antimonopoly Law itself is “ambiguous,” due to the very nature of its purpose — to govern market-based economic activities. Noting that the revised law is subject to another review in five years, Negoro urged companies to actively utilize the new rule, but not to abuse it.

“In lifting the ban on holding companies, we had to take the view that the inborn nature of companies is good,” he said. “Otherwise we would have had to put in place this restriction here or that restriction there.”