TOKYO - The Japanese antitrust watchdog on Thursday slapped a record-high fine on four power-related companies for forming cartels over electricity sales to forestall competition in the liberal power market.
A total of 101 billion yen ($763 million) in penalty will be collected from the four major power suppliers, which are Chugoku Electric Power Co, Chubu Electric Power Co, Kyushu Electric Power Co, and Chubu Electric subsidiary Chubu Electric Power Miraiz Co, said the Japan Fair Trade Commission.
It marked the highest amount fine ever imposed by the commission for a violation of the antimonopoly law
It marked the highest amount fine ever imposed by the commission for a violation of the antimonopoly law.
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The commission said that the firms reached agreements to avoid taking on new large-lot clients, including huge enterprises, outside of their typical service areas, undermining the effects of market liberalization.
Such limitations on acquiring new customers were in force as of October and November 2018 at the least and persisted until Kansai Electric stopped the practice in October 2020, according to the commission.
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Japan began liberalizing its energy market in 2000 in an effort to break the regional power companies' long-standing monopoly and encourage competition, which would help lower electricity prices.
In the same year, the market was opened to large-lot consumers like industries and office buildings. In 2016, it was opened to households and other small-lot users.