Competition Law Reform in Britain and Japan: Comparative Analysis of Policy Network

By Kenji Suzuki | Go to book overview

5

External changes and the reform of British and Japanese competition law in the 1990s

Following the major reforms of the 1970s, competition law in both Britain and Japan was largely stagnant in terms of reform until the 1990s (it is true that British competition law underwent several reforms in 1976, 1977 and 1980, but these were rather minor changes). However, as briefly mentioned in Chapter 1, significant changes occurred in the 1990s. In Britain, the new Competition Act was established in 1998 after many twists and turns. The new legislation over-hauled the regulatory provisions and institutions so as to increase their consistency with the EU system. As for Japan, there was no such fundamental reform, but instead various provisions were amended during the 1990s.

One of the common characteristics of the 1990s reforms was that they were by and large oriented to align with the models of neighbouring jurisdictions. In light of this, our discussion starts with the economic and political internationalisation influencing the reform of competition law in Britain and Japan. This is followed by an investigation into the process of British competition law reform. The third section examines the changes of Japanese competition law in the 1990s, highlighting the process of political pressure from the United States in the framework known as the Structural Impediment Initiative (SII), and the progress towards the 1997 reform which removed the prohibition on the establishment of holding companies.


The progress of economic and political internationalisation

Growth in international economic interdependence

The growth in international economic interdependence is among the most crucial factors in explaining the change of business interests regarding market competition. To assess the extent of this change, let us first look at the trend of international trade and investment among developed countries including Britain and Japan. As Figure 5.1 shows, the exports and imports of industrial countries have generally increased in the last twenty years. Likewise, the volume of outward and inward international investment has been on the rise in terms of both flow and stock through the 1980s and 1990s (Figures 5.2 and 5.3). Correspondingly,

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