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Press Release


Yahoo! JAPAN's Panel of Experts Proposes Establishment of Voluntary Rules for Digital Platform Operators

- Calls for further information disclosure,
including disclosure of the merchant screening criteria
for online malls

On August 19, 2020, Yahoo Japan Corporation (hereinafter “Yahoo! JAPAN”) received a recommendation report (hereinafter the “Report”) from the Panel on Appropriate Information Disclosure by Digital Platform Operators (established in April 2020; hereinafter the “Panel”), calling for further information disclosure, etc. by Yahoo! JAPAN on its online mall operations to ensure the transparency and fairness as a digital platform operator. Based on the Report, Yahoo! JAPAN will clarify its merchant criteria by disclosing the screening criteria by December 2020. In addition, Yahoo! JAPAN will reinforce staff training and implement operational improvements in customer support from September 2020.

With the aim of formulating voluntary rules that are truly necessary in order to maintain and ensure trust in the digital society, Yahoo! JAPAN established the Panel in April 2020 by inviting outside experts. The Panel examined the issues from a wide range of perspectives, including the selection of disclosure items and improvement of existing services, to further enhance the transparency of transactions by digital platform operators.

The Report advocates that digital platform operators, as their social responsibility, "should take an active role in leading the development of social systems by taking voluntary initiative in achieving business growth through improved customer satisfaction, and by using the knowledge gained through such initiatives to encourage the government to establish effective rules." The Report also states that the required actions include further information disclosure, such as the disclosure of merchant screening criteria.

Based on the Report and under the basic principle of putting users first, Yahoo! JAPAN will take voluntary initiatives to fulfill its social responsibility as a digital platform operator. The initiatives include enhancement of information disclosure which will be easily comprehensible to consumers and business partners, and reinforcement of sincere and prompt responses to inquiries and grievances. Aiming for operational transparency, Yahoo! JAPAN will newly incorporate the currently undisclosed criteria for opening stores on its e-commerce service, Yahoo! JAPAN Shopping, in the Terms of Use or its detailed guidelines by December 2020. In addition, to better respond to users through customer support services, Yahoo! JAPAN will train its staff so that they can provide support according to the individual circumstances of each user, and will review its customer support operations from September 2020.

The Report was handed from the Panel to the President and Representative Director, CEO of Yahoo! JAPAN, Kentaro Kawabe, in the online ceremony on August 19, 2020. As the Act on Improving Transparency and Fairness of Digital Platforms was passed and enacted in the Diet earlier this fiscal year, Yahoo! JAPAN shared the Report with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and other government officials to contribute to their policy making.

Chairperson Hiroshi Ohashi (Dean, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo)
We have high expectations for Yahoo! JAPAN, which has established a voluntary panel and implemented initiatives prior to the enactment of the Transparency Act, and we hope that it will continue its efforts to serve as a role model for digital platform operators. Such voluntary actions, rather than one-way government regulation, are the key to promoting innovation and ensuring that digital platform operators fulfill their social responsibilities.

Report outline (full Japanese text in PDF)
1. Social responsibility of digital platform operators
- Provision of safe and secure services
- Securement of reliability by protecting interests of consumers and business partners
- Establishment of voluntary rules as business policy
- Information disclosure for improved matching quality and rate
2. Strategic formulation of business rules and their global application
3. Workable information disclosure by digital platform operators
4. Future direction

Yahoo! JAPAN’s main policy in response to the Report
Under the basic principle of putting users first, Yahoo! JAPAN will undertake the following to ensure transparency and fairness of transactions:
- Reinforce sincere and prompt responses to inquiries and grievances
- Disclose more information that is easily comprehensible to consumers and business partners

<Steps to be taken by Yahoo! JAPAN>
- Disclosure of merchant screening criteria of Yahoo! JAPAN Shopping in the Terms of Use or its detailed guidelines by December 2020
- Enhancement of FAQ templates and reinforcement of training for customer service staff to better respond to customer inquiries and cater to customer needs, from September 2020
- Addition of a clearer, supplementary explanation on the background and principles of the “order of listing recommended items” to the webpage disclosed to customers and merchants by October 2020

[Outline of the Panel]
1. Agenda
- Social responsibility of digital platform operators
- Improving transparency/fairness in online malls
- Improving transparency/fairness in app stores

2. Members and observers (without honorifics)
Hiroshi OHASHI (Dean, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo)

Yoshitoshi IMOTO (Partner, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu)
Yuka KAKINUMA (Researcher, IT Research Group, Japan Association of Consumer Affairs Specialists)
Toshifumi KOKUBUN (Director, Center for Rule-making Strategies, Tama University)
Toshiya WATANABE (Professor, Institute for Future Initiatives, The University of Tokyo)

Secretariat, Headquarters for Digital Market Competition, Cabinet Secretariat
ICT Strategy Policy Division, Information and Communications Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Digital Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

3. Schedule
1st meeting 13:00-15:00, Friday, April 3, 2020
2nd meeting 11:00-12:00, Tuesday, April 21, 2020
3rd meeting 10:00-12:00, Monday, June 1, 2020
4th meeting 10:30-12:30, Wednesday, July 1, 2020
5th meeting 15:00-17:00, Monday, August 3, 2020
*Meetings were held as hybrid meetings.

Unless otherwise specified, English-language documents are prepared solely for the convenience of non-Japanese speakers. If there is any inconsistency between the English-language documents and the Japanese-language documents, the Japanese-language documents will prevail.