Parallel imports and the Japan Fair Trade Commission

Flath, David; Nariu, Tatsuhiko

We review the facts pertaining to some recent antimonopoly cases in Japan involving interference with unauthorized imports, so-called parallel imports, and propose economic explanations for the behavior of the foreign manufacturers in these cases. The intellectual property law of Japan provides a mechanism for private obstruction of parallel imports but under the antimonopoly law of Japan as implemented by the Japan Fair Trade Commission such obstruction is per se illegal. To the extent that price discrimination is the rationale for obstruction of parallel imports the JFTC policy has promoted lower prices and increased economic welfare in Japan. But we argue that in several of the cases we examine the rationale for obstructing parallel imports was to preserve incentives for distributors to invest and innovate and to preserve efficient marketing arrangements that depended upon resale price maintenance.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 202
Published Here
February 10, 2011