Bribery in international business

Japan must make fighting international bribery a priority


30/6/2016 - The OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Transactions has continuously urged Japan since 2002 to strengthen its efforts to fight bribery by Japanese companies in their foreign business activities, and implementation of the Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.


However, Japan has only prosecuted four cases of “foreign bribery” since 1999, when Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law (UCPL) was amended to make it an offence to bribe foreign public officials to obtain advantages in international business. The Working Group has repeatedly urged Japan to amend the Anti-Organised Crime Law (AOCL) so that companies and individuals convicted of bribing foreign public officials cannot keep their illegal proceeds, including by laundering them, as required by the OECD Convention. It has also recommended that Japan establish an Action Plan to organise police and prosecution resources to be able to proactively detect, investigate and prosecute cases of foreign bribery by Japanese companies.


On 29-30 June 2016, a high-level OECD mission arrived in Tokyo to discuss these pressing issues with high-level Japanese representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Justice, National Police Agency and National Tax Agency.


“We appreciate the readiness of the Japanese government to meet with us to discuss outstanding issues related to the necessary improvements of the country’s anti-bribery legislation and practice,” said Drago Kos, Chair of the Working Group on Bribery. “Japan should be aware that continued failure to fulfil the Working Group’s crucial recommendations would not only increase the Group’s concerns but – bearing in mind Japan’s important role in the world economy – also negatively affect other countries’ efforts in the global fight against foreign bribery. Therefore, we trust that the current positive spirit of cooperation will both result in the country quickly meeting our substantial concerns and also in Japan joining the list of countries more actively enforcing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.”


The Japanese side, in response, expressed its commitment to the global fight against corruption, and explained the latest status of its efforts to implement the recommendations of the Working Group.


The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries including Japan plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Russia and South Africa – comprises the Parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The Working Group conducts a systematic programme for monitoring implementation of the Convention by all its Parties. Typical examples of “foreign bribery” involve bribing officials in foreign countries to obtain public contracts for building infrastructure.


The Working Group decided to send a high-level mission to Japan to meet governmental representatives and senior officials, and to urge them to take the necessary steps to implement the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.


The most recent evaluation of Japan took place in December 2011, and the next evaluation will be conducted in March 2019.


For more information on the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in Japan, please visit or contact OECD’s Media Relations Division at or +33 (0)1 45 24 97 00.


More information on OECD’s work to fight corruption is available on


Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.


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