A press release by TOHO Cinemas revealed that the Japan Fair Trade Commission has started an investigation of the company on suspicion of violating the Antimonopoly Act on March 4, 2021, alleging that they have put pressure on the distribution company over the distribution of movies.
The Antimonopoly Act (AMA) is still Japan’s fundamental competition law, which generalized prohibitions against three types of anticompetitive conduct, i.e., private monopolization, unreasonable restraints of trade, and unfair methods of competition.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the personnel involved in the investigation revealed that TOHO cinemas demanded that its business partners and movie distributors prioritize distributing their movies over that of rival movie theatre operators and to not distribute the movies to them.
TOHO cinemas even intimidated to cease trade with their partners if they did not comply with their demands.
The JFTC determined that such conduct would interfere with other companies’ transactions and potentially result in a private monopoly or binding transactions under the Antimonopoly Act.
Regarding the investigation, Toho commented, “We will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.”
TOHO Cinemas is a Japanese theatre chain owned by Toho. It runs 677 screens at 72 theaters across Japan. It posted 161,893 million yen in domestic box office revenue with 114,818,000 visitors last year, according to Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan Inc.