JYJ3’s Note: The Japanese fans of JYJ Their Rooms have reported the unfair transaction practices of Avex to Japan’s Fair Trade Commission and along with its Petition. JYJ Their Rooms has previously made an inquiry to the Consumer Agency (see here) and has also sent the Consumer Agency with more materials for investigation.
The below is the translation of the submitted report to the Fair Trade Commission.
Because we believe that the acts described below in 1 through 3 by Avex Group Holdings Inc. (hereafter, “Avex”) towards JYJ (under the management of Avex, “JUNSU/JEJUNG/YUCHUN”) are subjected to charges of violating antitrust laws that prohibit unfair transaction practices, we ask the Fair Trade Commission to investigate and to take proper measures.
1. Unjustified Interferences with JYJ’s Charity Concert
JYJ, in order to aid in the restoring efforts of the earthquakes in eastern Japan, immediately after the earthquakes simultaneously donated 600,000,000 KRW (approximately 43,000,000 JPY) through the international relief and development organization World Vision and planned a charity concert to be held in Japan on June 7(Exhibit 1).
However, due to the interference of Avex, Yokohama Arena which was originally planned to be the venue for the concert, and Saitama Super Arena which was next planned to be the venue, one by one came to refrain from permitting their uses (Exhibit 2, 3). On this incomprehensible event, there are news reports that state that Avex had, under the table, pressured Yokohama Arena that “if it is used by JYJ, then in the future, no Avex artist will ever use the venue” (Exhibit 4).
We believe that Avex’s actions as the above to interfere with the venue usage of JYJ’s charity concert are violations of antitrust laws which took place due to the overwhelming influence it wields in the music industry.
2. Unilateral Cessation of Activities With Regards to JYJ
Originally, JYJ began its Japanese activities on April 14, 2010 after entering into an exclusive management contract with Avex Management Inc., a subsidiary of Avex (Exhibit 5). However, not even six months after on September 16th of the same year, Avex unilaterally announced JYJ’s cessation of Japanese activities (Exhibit 6). On this, JYJ is arguing that Avex presented conditions that were, contrary to the original contract, unilaterally disadvantageous to JYJ, and that upon refusal to accept them, brought out the past history of the director of C-JeS Entertainment (JYJ’s management company in Korea) which it was aware of at the time of contracting to notify JYJ of the cessation of activities (Exhibit 7).
From the time of the cessation of activities to now, Avex is blocking JYJ’s Japanese activities despite profiting by selling JYJ-related products (Exhibit 5). We believe that these actions by Avex simultaneously violate sound commercial integrity and also constitute unfair transaction practices towards the foreign artist JYJ who is positionally the weaker party in Japan’s music industry.
3. Exclusion of JYJ-Related Products from Oricon Rankings and Its Lack of Prior Notification
On March 2, 2011, close to six months after the cessation of JYj’s activities, Avex released “Memories in 2010,” a JYJ DVD, and “Thanksgiving Live in Dome Live DC,” a JYJ CD album (Exhibit 8).
However, even though the above DVD and CD were ranked #1 in retailers’ sales rankings, they were not reflected on the Oricon rankings.
On this, Oricon notified ex post that the reason for this exclusion from its rankings was that: “The products were originally those being examined as to their releases because Avex, due to having ceased the artist’s activities, had conditioned that all promotional activities, including the revelation of rankings, shall not be conducted” (Exhibit 10).
In the music industry the Oricon Charts wield a large influence. As the Billboard Magazine of the United States, it is the first to be used as the valuation index of the Japanese music industry and various mediums such as the television organize many programs that use these Oricon Rankings. Furthermore, Oricon Inc., which operates the Oricon Rankings, describes itself as follows: “Our group makes it our company policy to contribute to the development of culture and society by producing the most trustworthy information on rankings from the consumer-oriented position and gaining public trust.” It puts up as its primary business “the ‘business of data service’ that produces marketing data and ranking information based upon actual-sales data from stores in cooperation in all of Japan” (Exhibit 11). That a major corporation in the music industry such as Avex colludes with Oricon Rankings that claims to be “trustworthy” and to be “marketing data and ranking information based on actual-sales data” and monopolizes the usage as a sales index for music-related products in order to exclude the above JYJ-related products from these rankings—does this action not constitute an unfair transaction practice.
Furthermore, the fact of this exclusion from the rankings was first revealed through the website of Oricon after the release of the products (see Exhibit 10) and the consumers were not give prior notice.
Those products that had not been included in the Oricon Charts in the past had been marked upon its release that “this product is not reflected on Oricon and rankings that originates from it and we ask for your understanding” (Exhibit 12). Furthermore, the products that were released during the cessation of activities by Tohoshinki, the group to which the 3 members of JYJ previously belonged, were reflected on the Oricon Rankings (Exhibit 13, 14).
A significant number of the consumers, fans of JYJ, had as one of motivations for purchase the wish that by purchasing the product and putting it on the Oricon Rankings many people will recognize JYJ who is ceased in activities. In this way also, we believe that to exclude the products from the Oricon Rankings and to fail to notify to the consumer of the fact before the products’ releases constitute extremely unfair transaction practices.
Additionally, we include a Demand Letter and the current total of the Petition that are being submitted to Avex on this matter (10458 signatures as of today, May 22, 2011) (Exhibit 15). We ask that the Fair Trade Commission understand the urgent voice of the many consumers included in this Petition and accordingly administer strictly fair investigation and measures.