Japan OKs Deal between Google and Yahoo on Internet Searches

More than 90 Pct of Internet Search Will Go through Google Engines

TOKYO -- Japan's Fair Trade Commission gave final approval Thursday to a deal between Google and Yahoo Japan that will see more than 90% of Japanese Internet searches going through Google's engines.

"The commission has judged that, at this point, it is not necessary to continue the investigation to take action with regard to antitrust rules," the regulator said in a statement.

Microsoft and Rakuten -- Japan's leading online mall - lodged objections to the tie-up on anti-monopoly grounds when it was first announced in July this year.

Yahoo Japan is the leading Japanese-language search engine, cornering 57% of the market. Google has just over 30%, and Microsoft - which Yahoo has partnered with in the US and many other regions - around 3%.

Telecom operator Softbank owns 37.5% of Yahoo Japan, while Yahoo Inc holds 35%.

Softbank has grown the mobile phone business it took over from Vodafone in 2006, particularly since it landed the exclusive rights to the iPhone in Japan. Last month it announced it would buy the outstanding stake that Vodafone - the world's largest mobile operator - holds in its Japanese telecom operations for 412.5 billion yen, or almost $5 billion.

In July Sofbank invested $150 million in Zynga, the San Franciso-based developer of social network games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars.