Japan’s antitrust watchdog orders Google to address advertising restrictions

The commission conducted a study and determined that Google’s practices undermined fair competition in the advertising market.

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Japan’s antitrust watchdog has issued a directive to Google, stating that the US tech giant must address its advertising search restrictions that affect Yahoo in Japan. According to the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Google’s practices were found to impede fair competition in the advertising market, particularly in relation to Yahoo Japan Corp., which merged with Line, a Japanese social media platform.

The issue stems from Google’s keyword-targeted search advertising services, which Yahoo Japan utilised after a collaboration initiated in 2010. The Fair Trade Commission claims that Google imposed restrictions in its advertising agreement with Yahoo Japan that hindered competition in targeted search ads for over seven years. Google responded by dropping these restrictions following an investigation by the FTC into potential violations of the Anti-Monopoly Law.

In response to the commission’s findings, Google has pledged full cooperation and emphasised that the commission did not find outright violations of anti-monopoly laws. The company committed to implementing the commission’s directives to enhance search functions for Japanese users and advertisers. Meanwhile, Line Yahoo declined to comment on the matter.

Why does it matter?

Google will remain under scrutiny for the next three years to ensure compliance with necessary changes. However, the commission did not impose fines or other penalties on the tech giant, which remains popular in Japan. This action by the commission comes shortly after another legal setback for Google in Japan, where Japanese doctors filed a civil lawsuit against the company for allegedly allowing groundless derogatory and false comments on its platform. In response, Google stated its continuous efforts to combat misleading or false information through human oversight and technological solutions.