Reports say the Japanese government has urged Google, Meta, and other big tech companies to register their overseas global headquarters in Japan, in addition to their local divisions, in the latest attempt to bolster its regulation of huge digital corporations.
Although Japanese law requires international organizations operating continuously within the country's borders to register their overseas headquarters, many IT firms have registered their Japanese subsidiaries.
The government deems it difficult to understand the actions of computer companies and calculate proper taxation without such registration, because they can deliver services from anywhere in the globe via the internet, even without having physical offices.
As other countries tighten restrictions, the Japanese government is working to protect customers and small firms who do business with big digital corporations by being rigorous with registrations and monitoring their actions.
According to persons acquainted with the case, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications have urged Meta, which owns Facebook, and others to register their overseas offices by the end of March, or offer explanations for why they can't by mid-April.
A lawyer familiar with the situation, Yoichiro Itakura, said it was unreasonable to suggest the tech companies are not in continuous business when there are so many Japanese users; it is inappropriate, and the Ministry of Justice's conclusion is only normal.
Failure to comply with the rule might result in a punishment of up to one million yen ($7,900). This tiny penalty, combined with the stress of needing to reveal financial performance at registration, may have contributed to registrations being overlooked.
Experts, on the other hand, believe that complete registrations will benefit internet users. It is easier for customers to pursue legal procedures once a foreign company registers its headquarters in Japan. Currently, just exchanging the necessary documentation for procedures such as identifying trolls takes several months.