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Google pressed to reform search ad practices in Japan

Google pressed to reform search ad practices in Japan

Japan's antitrust watchdog said Monday it has asked Google LLC to voluntarily reform its business practices after finding that it imposed unfair restrictions in its search advertising agreement with Yahoo Japan. The Japan Fair Trade Commission concluded that the practices by the U.S. search giant compromised the fairness of the digital advertising market. It is the first administrative step taken by Japanese authorities against Google. The commission said Google has submitted proposals to improve its practices and that it has accepted them, exempting the company from facing fines or other punitive measures under the antimonopoly law. An official of the Japan Fair Trade Commission holds a press briefing in Tokyo on April 22, 2024. (Kyodo) The commission will continue investigating as Google is also suspected of preventing fair competition in search services. The regulator began its probe in 2022, and notified Google of possible violations of the law in March this year. It concluded that Google's practices could amount to private monopoly or interference with competitors' transactions. Google said in a statement that it has not been found to have violated the law. But it also said it will implement the improvement plan steadily. Yahoo Japan, now LY Corp., said it will refrain from commenting. The plan includes suspending restrictions on technology provision to Yahoo for three years. In the transactions under scrutiny, Google and Yahoo purchased advertising spots from other companies' portal sites and distributed online ads linked to search key words. The two companies entered a contract in 2010 enabling Yahoo to use Google's search engine and search advertising technologies. But Google later asked Yahoo to stop distributing search-linked advertisements, changed the contract in 2014, and restricted Yahoo's ad distribution for seven years through 2022, during which period advertisers and portal site operators had no choice but to rely on Google, the commission said. Yahoo accepted the restrictions out of concern that it could be denied access to Google's technologies, sources close to the matter said earlier. Fair trade regulators in the United States and Europe have been strengthening their oversight of large information technology companies. Japan's FTC has also aligned with the trend as the market size of search-linked advertising has surged to more than 1 trillion yen ($6.5 billion). Related coverage: Doctors, dentists sue Google for keeping reviews they say are unfair Japan watchdog to instruct Google to improve search ad practices Social media firms bolster monitoring of Japan quake misinformation

Kyodo News Digest: April 22, 2024

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Search continues for 7 crew after 2 SDF choppers crash in Pacific

The search continued on Monday for seven missing Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force members after two helicopters crashed during a late-night anti-submarine drill in the Pacific on Saturday, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowing an "all-out" rescue effort. The Defense Ministry is analyzing two flight recorders that were recovered from an area where the search is taking place, but there has so far been no data indicating an abnormality in either of the helicopters, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters. The two SH-60K patrol helicopters, which the ministry believes likely collided, were carrying four people each, with one confirmed to have died on Sunday. Flight recorders from two Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60K patrol helicopters recovered from waters east of Torishima Island in the Izu Island chain are pictured on April 21, 2024. (Photo courtesy of the Maritime Self-Defense Force)(Kyodo) "It is a matter of greatest regret that we lost a valued (MSDF) member during difficult nighttime exercises to prepare for missions," Kishida told a parliamentary committee on Monday. "Taking this serious incident into our heart, we will take all possible measures to ensure the safe operations of Self-Defense Forces aircraft," he said. The crash came as the country bolsters its security amid China's increasing maritime assertiveness. It was the latest in a string of fatal accidents involving Japan's Self-Defense Forces aircraft in recent years. Kihara said he issued an order on Sunday to the SDF to carefully conduct preflight checks on all aircraft, carry out safety management education and confirm emergency procedures. In the latest incident, the helicopters lost contact at 10:38 p.m. and 11:04 p.m. on Saturday, respectively, with the MSDF receiving an emergency signal at 10:39 p.m. Together with another MSDF helicopter, the two crashed aircraft were conducting a drill to detect and attack a submarine after taking off from separate destroyers deployed nearby. A total of three helicopters were in the air at the time, with Adm. Ryo Sakai, chief of staff of the MSDF, saying the third aircraft that did not crash "may have been in a position to have objectively witnessed the circumstances" of the incident. The crash site is in waters around 270 kilometers east of Torishima Island in the Izu island chain, where the water depth is about 5,500 meters. Rotor blades and other helicopter parts have been spotted on the surface, as well as helmets. Sakai said the exact locations of the helicopters' main wreckage are still unknown but acknowledged that "common sense" would suggest they had sunk deep down in the sea. The accident is a blow to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, which in April 2023 saw a UH-60JA helicopter of the ground force crash into waters off an island in the southern prefecture of Okinawa, resulting in the deaths of all 10 people aboard. In January 2022, an Air Self-Defense Force F-15 fighter jet crashed into the Sea of Japan off Ishikawa Prefecture in the central part of the country, killing two pilots. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara (L) holds a press conference at the ministry in Tokyo on April 22, 2024, as Maritime Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Adm. Ryo Sakai looks on. (Kyodo)  Related coverage: Japan GSDF fails to determine exact cause of fatal 2023 chopper crash Japan's SDF begins Tomahawk missile training for FY 2025 deployment Japan GSDF resumes Osprey flights near Tokyo after fatal U.S. crash

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