The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Agency alliance aims to control tech giants
A tie-up between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Japan Fair Trade Commission (FTC), and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is working to hammer out tangible controls on Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon—the four US tech giants collectively referred to as GAFA. The companies would be obligated to safeguard personal data, and report commu­nications breakdowns.
In July 2018, METI and the FTC had dis­cussed such issues at a forum concerning the business environment for digital platformers. Guidelines for comprehensive legal controls on GAFA and others were proposed at the gathering.
While MIC imposes a variety of controls on major telecom companies, such as the NTT Group, the Japanese government does not require GAFA or others that provide email and communications services on a global scale to report cases of breakdowns.
As MIC sees it, such disruptions to GAFA services would have considerable impact on the economy. For this reason alone, these companies should be required to promptly report, in detail, any failures, the causes, and the steps taken to prevent a recurrence.
Another guideline calls for meticulous efforts to proactively inform users of changes to or suspension of services. It is unclear, however, to what degree stronger controls can be seriously imposed by the government on companies that operate on a global scale.
The three-way alliance between MIC, METI, and the FTC is attracting attention. Somewhat unexpectedly, the real test of this battle between Kasumigaseki and GAFA—in terms of Japan’s cybersecurity measures—seems likely to come after this summer’s Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
US–Japan trade deal boost for agriculture
As the US–Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA) went into effect on New Year’s Day, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has taken stock of its domestic measures in agriculture sectors. By one calculation, the flow of cheap imported products may lead to a ¥110 billion drop in the value of production. MAFF, aiming to dispel concerns on the front lines and the impact this may have on output, is likely to embark on assistance to agriculture. This could resemble a modified version of the fundamental measures that had been planned for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Concerning the USJTA, Minister of Agriculture Taku Eto said: “It was arran­­ged within the scope of the TPP. The agree­ment on the aggressive portions, such as the framework on expanded exports of domestic beef to the United States, turned out favorably.” However, he added, with the reduction in import duties, “we cannot disregard future effects.”
In particular, concerns over the impact that imports of US beef are likely to have on those who raise domestic livestock have led to measures providing for procurement of wagyu cows. Purchases will be subsidized to the tune of several hundred thousand yen per head, and similar subsidies are being considered for milk cows.
Livestock cluster businesses that aim to boost efficiency at regional farms will involve facilitating eligibility for subsidies for small and medium-sized farm families. This money can be used to procure new facilities and equipment such farms need.
Measures are also moving ahead to harness smart farming, such as through the use of drones that will support farmers in isolated mountain areas.
Likewise, expansion of export-oriented “attack” agriculture will also be supported. To ensure compliance with international sanitation standards, such as the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system required for food exports to North America, provisions will be made to support new installations of air showers and other improvements to existing facilities.
The Consortium for New Export Nation system by which the Japan External Trade Organization supports overseas deployments by small and medium-sized enterprises will also be expanded. One idea is to reinforce tie-ups between regional agricultural coop­eratives and tourist associations to promote the export of specialty products.

keizaikai magazine