Business

Japan eyes legislation to regulate global and domestic tech giants

Kyodo

The government said Wednesday it plans to submit a bill to the Diet next year to regulate global and domestic technology giants amid concerns some are stifling fair competition due to their overwhelming market share.

The bill to enhance transparency in the business transactions of tech firms will be presented to the ordinary Diet session to be convened in January, according to a draft economic growth strategy shown to a governmental panel. The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to adopt the strategy later this month.

The draft says major tech firms, referred to as “platformers” in Japan as they provide digital infrastructure or platforms for the sale of products and services, could disadvantage smaller business partners by unilaterally forcing contract terms and rules on them, and having them shoulder excessive costs.

Regarding U.S. tech giants — including Google LLC, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., collectively known as GAFA — the envisioned legislation will oblige such firms to make contract terms public and explain the reasons when they refuse business deals, the draft says.

Besides the regulations on IT firms, the draft growth strategy also calls on companies to hire employees until age 70 as part of efforts to address a serious labor crunch amid Japan’s rapidly graying population.

Many companies in Japan currently set the retirement age at 60, but employees can work until 65 if they desire and employers are legally obliged to continue hiring them.

The draft strategy presents seven options for companies regarding the employment of seniors, including abolishing the retirement age, lifting it to 70, and providing support for retired employees to find new jobs, start their own businesses or work freelance.

The draft policy package also includes a plan to secure public transportation in depopulated areas amid a lack of taxi drivers, such as expanding ride-sharing services involving private cars, which are currently banned in most parts of the country.

It also aims to relax rules on taxi use and enable customers to share taxi rides with strangers, according to the draft.