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欧米競争当局者インタビュー

Interview with EU’s Acting Director of Cartels

 Q: I would like to ask you about leniency program. In Japan, leniency program was enacted approximately 5 years ago. Since then, it has turned out to be very effective to detect big cartel cases in Japan. We would like to hear from you about your view on the effectiveness of the leniency program.

 A: I have understood it’s been successful. What I can say is that; in the past Japanese companies were not active participants in leniency programs, in the European Union for example. And in a way there have been victims in leniency because other companies were coming in, getting immunity and getting reductions of fines but Japanese companies were not.

 That is completely changed now, Japanese companies are active participants in our leniency program either seeking immunity or seeking reduction of fines. So, I suspect that that participation of Japanese companies in our leniency program is connected with introduction of leniency program in Japan. And now, Japanese companies are benefitting from the European Union’s leniency program.

 Q: From when have you felt that Japanese companies have been active in participating in the leniency program in the EU?

 A: I think it’s difficult to point precise date on it. But I guess; for the last few years. There are some events. It’s not something new today. It’s been going on for the last few years, And it’s been a gradual process.

 Q: It is very interesting because many people think that Japanese companies are thinking that cooperation with other companies and harmony is more important than competition, because in Japan, in general, harmony is very important in Japanese culture. So, it is very interesting for me that you say that you do not see any difference. What do you think about Japanese culture of harmony?

 A: Well, I don’t see any differences willingness in participating leniency program. What I would say is the damage caused by antitrust infringements in particular cartels is enormous, the amounts of billions of euro in Europe alone every year and antitrust infringement such as cartels and abuses are very profitable for companies.

 There are economic studies which sought to estimate harms caused by cartels and its estimated that higher prices of ten to thirty percent possibly even more. So given the numbers, we think it’s very important that competition should be maintained and the competition law should be used to protect economic growth to protect economic efficiency, provide fair, free economic activities and of course protect consumer welfare. And, so we think it’s a welcome development that Japanese companies are now participating actively normally in our leniency program. Japanese companies are leaders in many economic sectors. We think in the long run only competition and innovation will able them to defend that position. And cartels, on the other hand, lead to less incentive for innovation and loss of competitiveness.

 So, we strongly believe that competition is a corner stone of effective market economy and that failure to ensure fair competition and effective competition in markets will lead to economic decline.

 Q: Do you have anything

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