The government will consider the need to relax the provisions of the Antimonopoly Act in order to facilitate cooperation among companies toward decarbonization. The government has in mind joint investment by power companies as well as the merger of companies in the steel and materials sector, which produces a large amount of greenhouse gases. There are cases in Europe where regulations on cartels are exempted for the purpose of environmental protection. Japan will also review its competition policy.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will soon launch a study group composed of competition law experts and representatives of research institutes on energy-related issues. METI will conduct case studies with reference to European initiatives.
Collaboration among multiple companies is indispensable for the development of new technologies and capital investment for decarbonization. Under current antitrust laws, it is difficult for companies with a high market share to merge their operations even if the merger would promote decarbonization. There is a risk that the laws will delay or stymie corporate decarbonization measures.
In 2001, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) published guidelines for joint recycling by manufacturers of home appliances and machinery. The guidelines assumed cases in which companies jointly established a collection facility for used products. The JFTC said that the impact on retail prices would be small and that such cases are “not problematic under the Antimonopoly Act.”
There are no guidelines yet on the application of the Antimonopoly Act in the area of environmental protection. It is expected that the government will accelerate actions to clarify the standards defining what cases do not violate the Antimonopoly Act, to enable decarbonization efforts. (Abridged)