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Amazon Japan investigated under antitrust laws

March 15, 2018

Amazon’s Japanese division is under investigation by Japan’s antitrust regulator, following allegations that it has been requesting a percentage of its vendors’ sales revenue.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that the online retail giant has been asking its vendors for what it terms ‘cooperation payments’ since approximately last year, with the assurance that these payments would contribute towards system upgrades, and other unspecified improvements. The amount requested varied, between “a few percent” and “well over 10 percent of sales prices.”

Furthermore, it has been accused of asking vendors to help absorb the costs of discounting goods. The company’s Japanese subsidiary has reportedly been struggling recently, owing to rising shipping costs, alongside other operational outlays.

Now, the Japan Fair Trade Commission has begun an on-site investigation at Amazon Japan’s office, on suspicion of it having violated the nation’s Antitrust law. The Commission reportedly suspects Amazon of “using its dominant position in the country’s e-commerce market to pressure suppliers, making it virtually impossible to refuse the request,” according to Nikkei. It adds the the regulator is seeking to clarify with Amazon Japan the details of the aforementioned payments. Amazon Japan has said it will cooperate fully with the investigation.

The retailer has previously found itself in hot water with Japan’s regulatory body over the use of the so-termed ‘most-favoured nation clause’, which requires its vendors to offer the same, or better, prices and product lineups as they do on other marketplace websites. Amazon Japan agreed to delete the clause after an investigation last June.

 

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