OECD Criticized Japan for its Laxness in Implementing the Anti-Bribery Convention

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Tetsuya Morimoto
In March 2005, the OECD published a Phase 2 Report that evaluates the Japanese enforcement of the implementing legislation for the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD Anti-Bribery Convention). In the Report, the OECD Working Group states that "Japan has not demonstrated sufficient efforts to enforce the offence of bribing a foreign public official." The Working Group is critically concerned about the absence of formal investigations of foreign bribery cases and recommended that Japan, through its Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, undertake an internal review of the reasons for such absence. Moreover, the Working Group decided to conduct another on-site evaluation approximately one year later. In September 1998, Japan enacted implementing legislation in the form of amendments to the Unfair Competition Prevention Law (UCPL); the amendments came into force in February 1999. Any natural person who commits bribery of foreign officials will be imprisoned for up to 3 years or fined up to JPY 3 million (approx. $28,000). Under Japanese law, criminal sanctions can only be imposed on natural persons unless relevant statutes expressly provide otherwise. While a legal person cannot be held criminally liable for the bribery of domestic officials, which is a criminal offense under the Penal Code, article 15 of the UCPL specifically prescribes corporate criminal liability for the bribery of foreign officials committed by a representative, agent or employee of a legal person, who is acting on behalf of such a legal person. A legal person will be fined up to JPY 300 million (approx. $2.8 million)...[more]