Govt. to urge Apple, Amazon to fix problematic business practices

Yomiuri Shimbun File Photo
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry will urge Apple Inc. and Amazon Japan G.K. to rectify problematic business practices, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Apple raised the prices of apps sold on its App Store platform in October. The duration between the notification Apple sent to app firms about the change and the date when the prices kicked in was too short, according to the industry ministry, which will urge the U.S. tech giant to provide sufficient time for companies to prepare in the event of similar changes.

The ministry will urge Amazon to better respond to complaints and provide clearer explanations to sellers on its online shopping platform when transactions are canceled.

The ministry has been investigating problems with the business practices of several IT giants, based on a law that came into force in 2021.

A draft report based on the views of an expert panel that will soon be released includes problems uncovered in the practices of Apple and Amazon. It will be the first such report since the law aimed at improving the transparency and fairness of digital platforms came into force.

The government will press the companies to make the improvements voluntarily as requests to rectify the problems are not enforceable under the law.

According to the draft, an app price hike is a change in conditions that “requires sufficient time” for necessary preparations to be made.

Apple’s app price increase was announced on Sept. 19 and took effect on Oct. 5. Companies that develop apps for Apple iPhones and other devices needed to update their systems to accommodate the change.

Many app companies complained that the period between the notification and the date the change took effect was too short. “We want at least one or two months,” a representative of one company said. Other companies said they did not receive sufficient explanations about the change.

In its report, the ministry will urge Apple to make improvements on such matters. It will stipulate that the “details and reasons for such a change need to be clearly explained.”

There have reportedly been many cases of Amazon canceling the transactions with sellers on its platform without providing appropriate explanations. According to the draft, Amazon will be urged to improve its handling of such cases and its explanations to sellers.

Amazon Japan received about 57,000 complaints in fiscal 2021.