Japan antitrust authority approves Google's plan to curb advertising abuses

Japan's antitrust watchdog has approved Google's plan to prevent a recurrence of alleged abuse of its dominance in online advertising.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission said on Monday it concluded its scrutiny on allegations that the US IT giant limited the operations of rival firm LY Corporation's mobile messaging-service Line and search-engine Yahoo Japan.

Google has an overwhelming share in Japan's market for what is known as "keyword-targeted" online advertising. This method enables the automatic display of ads based on keywords that users have typed into a search engine.

Google has been providing technical assistance on the method to LY Corporation since 2010.

The commission says Google violated Japan's antitrust law by requesting that LY halt part of their advertising services for a certain period of time over seven years until 2022.

Google admitted to the allegation and submitted a plan that includes preventive measures. The commission's approval now exempts Google from punishments, such as cease-and-desist orders.

American tech giants, known collectively as GAFA or GAFAM, have been facing more stringent regulations from US and European authorities on suspicion that their market dominance is obstructing free competition.

Authorities in Japan are also increasing their monitoring, including on-site inspections of Japanese subsidiaries of such firms. Commission officials say they will take rigorous and swift measures if there is any violation of law.