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Japan could be next to force third-party app stores on Apple

An Apple Store in Japan

The Japanese Parliament is debating a proposed law that would effectively emulate the EU's Digital Markets Act and require Apple to open up the App Store.

Originally proposed in 2023, the new bill is now being officially deliberated by Parliament. According to The Japan Times, the bill is expected to be passed by both chambers of the country's Parliament.

If the bill passes into law, the intention is that it will facilitate competition and reduce app prices. Japan's government reportedly believes that Apple and Google are a duopoly, and that they charge developers high fees that are then passed on to users.

However, previous reports have claimed that should the bill pass into law, it will then be the Japanese government choice over which firms to apply it to. While it is certain to say Apple and Google must comply, it's not expected to add any Japanese firms to the list.

What happens next

The current Parliamentary session in Japan is due to conclude on June 23, 2024. If the bill does pass both the country's House of Representatives and the House of Councillors, then it becomes law.

Unlike many countries, including the US, the bill need only pass the two chambers. It does not then have to be signed into law by a President, monarch, or in Japan's case, an emperor.

Nonetheless, the law made from this bill is not expected to come into effect until some time during 2025.

The bill originates in a Competition Assessment of the Mobile Ecosystem done by the Digital Market Competition Council of Japan's Diet (the joint name for both chambers of Parliament). While Apple has not commented on the current debate in Japan's Parliament, it did previously defend itself against antitrust accusations in that assessment.