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2013年3月 8日 (金)

新公取委員長 「市場の番人」が担う重い責任

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 8, 2013)
New FTC chairman bears heavy responsibility as market guardian
新公取委員長 「市場の番人」が担う重い責任(3月7日付・読売社説)

The chairmanship of the Fair Trade Commission--which ensures fair competition as a guardian of the market--was empty for about six months. We welcome the recent resolution of this irregular situation.

Kazuyuki Sugimoto, a former administrative vice finance minister, assumed the post earlier this week after being approved by both chambers of the Diet.

The seat had been empty since September, following the retirement of Sugimoto's predecessor, Kazuhiko Takeshima, because the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda did not even submit an appointment proposal to the Diet.

It was irresponsible for Noda's administration to leave the FTC unable to function without a leader. It was appropriate that the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors approved the proposal by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to appoint Sugimoto as the commission's new chairman.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan caused confusion when it rejected a government offer to discuss Sugimoto's appointment on the grounds that it was leaked by the media before officially being made public. The ruling and opposition camps should use this case as a chance to normalize Diet procedures for approving personnel nominations proposed by the government.


Vows to promote competition

The FTC will play an important role in Abenomics, the economic policy of Abe's administration through which it aims to help companies become more competitive.

"We will ensure fair, free competition," Sugimoto said during a press conference upon assuming the post. "We will strictly deal with violations of the Antimonopoly Law."

We hope Sugimoto will exercise his leadership as the commanding officer for the competition policy.

The FTC strengthened its functions during Takeshima's 10-year tenure.

In addition to raising financial penalties for companies violating the law, the commission adopted a system to reduce or waive surcharges on companies that voluntarily report their violations. This has helped the FTC uncover a number of serious cases.

The FTC also speeded up screenings of corporate mergers, with an eye on the fact that companies have been facing fiercer competition with foreign rivals.

How can the FTC help companies become more competitive and ultimately revive the nation's economy? The Sugimoto-led commission bears a heavy responsibility.

The commission's immediate task is to enable small and midsize companies to increase their prices by the amount of the consumption tax when its rate is increased in 2014 and 2015. It should prevent major companies from abusing their dominant positions to force weaker contractors to shoulder the tax increases.


Protect smaller firms

The government will submit a bill during the current ordinary Diet session to allow the FTC to warn companies if they prevent contractors from reflecting the tax increases in their prices, or to make the names of such firms public. The FTC should fulfill its supervisory functions.

When Sugimoto attended a hearing at the Diet before receiving its approval, he was asked about the resale price maintenance system, under which newspapers and book publishers, along with makers of other items, are authorized to set retail prices on their products. Sugimoto said he does not think the system should be revised.

Sugimoto also said it is unnecessary to abolish the designation of newspapers as an exception to the Antimonopoly Law, which enables anyone to buy the same newspaper at the same price anywhere in the nation.

The resale price maintenance system and the exception play important roles in maintaining the newspaper industry's home delivery system and promoting print culture. We applaud Sugimoto's remarks.

There are some issues on which decisions should not be made just on the principle of competition. The FTC is encouraged to show a sense of balance by taking into account real situations when examining issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 7, 2013)
(2013年3月7日01時21分  読売新聞)


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