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Regis Arnaud: The US Antitrust Authorities vs. Japan Inc.
- Regis Arnaud
The US Department of Justice is currently running what it calls “the biggest antitrust lawsuit in history”, targeting the auto parts industry. Most of the targeted companies so far are Japanese part makers from Nagoya. Some of the most famous names in the industry (Yazaki, Denso,…) have already had to pay massive fines, and have seen some of their managers incarcerated in America for sentences running up to 2 years, the longest ever given to a foreigner in an antitrust case in the US. And it is not over. Soon, the EU antitrust body will announce new fines. The Japan Fair Trade Commission itself has also issued its biggest fine in history on Yazaki. Yet this issue is barely covered by the Japanese press, and even by the American press. Surprisingly, the supposed victims of these cartels (Toyota, Honda, Nissan…), who had to pay their supplies at inflated prices, have been astoundingly silent.
This reflects the unpreparedness of Japanese companies in a globalized regulatory environment and also a culture of connivance (or cooperation) rather than competition. It is a fascinating story that affects business and also has cultural and social aspects.