Japan plans to follow the EU’s lead and force Apple to open its App Store


App Store

Japan is on the brink of a regulatory shift in its digital markets, mirroring the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) to enhance competition and lower app prices. The Japanese parliament is currently debating a proposed law that would compel Apple to open its App Store, aiming to address concerns about market dominance and high fees charged to developers.

Apple App Store Apps app analysis reports EU's Digital Markets Act

Proposed Law Overview

The new bill, originally proposed in 2023, is undergoing formal review in Japan’s parliament and is expected to be passed by both houses of the Diet, as reported by the Japan Times. The primary objective of this legislation is to foster competition and reduce app prices by targeting the dominant positions of Apple and Google in the mobile app market.

While the bill will impact major tech giants like Apple and Google, the Japanese government will have the authority to determine which companies fall under its regulations. Although Apple and Google are certain to be affected, it is unlikely that Japanese companies will be subject to the same requirements.

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Background and Rationale

The bill originates from a comprehensive review of the mobile ecosystem by the Digital Market Competition Committee of Japan’s Diet. This legislative move reflects a growing global trend towards regulating digital markets to ensure fair competition and consumer protection. While Apple has not officially commented on the ongoing debate in the Japanese parliament, the company has previously defended its business practices against antitrust allegations.

Japan’s current congressional session will conclude on June 23, 2024, if all goes according to schedule. If the bill successfully passes through the Japanese House of Representatives and Senate, it will become law. Unlike some countries, Japan’s legislative process does not require the prime minister’s signature for a bill to take effect. However, we do not expect the implementation of the law resulting from this bill until 2025.

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Implications and Future Outlook

If the proposal pulls through, it will mark a shift in Japan’s digital market landscape. It could potentially open up new opportunities for app developers and consumers. By aligning with the principles of the EU’s DMA, Japan aims to create a more competitive and transparent environment. The repercussions of this regulatory change are likely to reverberate across the tech industry. It could also influence how major players operate and interact within the Japanese market.

Conclusion

Japan’s move to emulate the EU’s approach towards regulating digital markets signals a proactive stance. The Asian nation seeks to promote competition and consumer welfare. The debate is ongoing in the Japanese parliament and the bill is progressing to becoming law. The tech industry and stakeholders will closely monitor the implications of this legislative development on the digital ecosystem in Japan.

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