Yahoo Japan to go dark in Europe, Except for Mails and Credit Cards

Yahoo Japan announced that most of its online services would no longer be accessible in the European Economic Area and the UK, starting April 6th. 

However, the company’s email, credit card, and ebook services will continue to be available, but everything else is going dark.  

The main reason behind that decision is the cost of complying with European regulations, which would include GDPR. In a statement, Yahoo Japan says it would be difficult to provide continuous service for customers in the EEA and UK and went further in telling Japanese publication IT Media that it would be “impossible” to meet the cost of compliance and respond to the related laws.  

In parallel with that decision to pull out of Europe comes the decision that Yahoo Japan is heightening its efforts to expand beyond its home market. Last year, Yahoo Japan’s SoftBank-owned parent Z Holdings merged with the dominant Japanese chat app Line to create a new tech giant with worldwide ambitions.  

Takeshi Idezawa, Line CEO and now co-CEO of Z Holdings alongside Yahoo Japan CEO Kentaro Kawabe, said at the time that the new company “would like to launch a global smartphone app.”  

It is worth mentioning that Yahoo Japan is a separate entity from the American former web giant owned by the Apollo private equity firm. It was already placed as a joint venture between the U.S. Yahoo and SoftBank in 1996.  

Yahoo Japan is still very popular in Japan, considering it was a web portal and search engine, with uncountable other Japanese-language services, including online auctions, e-commerce, and well-regarded weather and maps apps.  

The search engine decided that its user base in Europe isn’t large enough to be worth the cost of following EU regulations. Its services are mostly only provided in Japanese, so its reach will have been limited. Still, it’s notable that a web company with such a massive presence in its primary market feels unable to operate in Europe.