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A senior official of the U.S. Justice Department voiced support Tuesday for Japan’s plan to transfer the Fair Trade Commission from the public management ministry to the Cabinet Office.

The proposal, which would see the FTC operating with greater independence under the Cabinet Office, is “appropriate” and has the support of the U.S. government, William Kolasky, the deputy assistant attorney general within the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department, said in a speech in Tokyo.

“It is important that the public has confidence that the FTC is able to perform its mission in an independent manner, free of political and bureaucratic influence,” he said.

In August, the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, a key economic panel chaired by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, agreed to transfer the FTC to the Cabinet Office as part of a structural reform drive.

The government is now considering how this transfer — from the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry — should be carried out in fiscal 2003.

There have been calls for the FTC to be separated from the ministry, with some analysts questioning the propriety of placing the FTC under the jurisdiction of a ministry tasked with fostering certain industries, including the telecom sector.

Kolasky said the pursuit of strong law enforcement and sound competition policies is critical to economic growth.

“Competition policy plays a key role in fostering dynamic markets and stimulating economic growth,” he said.

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