Amazon’s wants to keep up its same-day delivery service with a new fleet of couriers. Pic: AP

Amazon Japan raided by anti-monopoly watchdog on suspicion of unfair practices

JAPAN’S anti-monopoly watchdog agency raided Amazon Japan’s offices, after suspecting the world’s largest e-commerce site of allegedly pressuring its retailers to set lower prices on Amazon to give it an advantage over rival online retail sites.

According to a report by the Nikkei Asian Review, the Japan Fair Trade Commission carried out an on-site inspection of Amazon’s Japanese branch recently for unfair business practices, but did not specify when.

A spokeswoman for Amazon Japan declined to comment. FTC provisions prohibit companies from unfairly limiting the activities of those with whom they maintain a business relationship.

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Last year, Amazon Japan’s website clocked in net sales of US$8.3 billion, which made up 7.7 percent of’s global net sales, which totaled US$107 billion. Reuters reports that Rakuten Inc, Amazon’s main rival in the country, didn’t hold a candle to the major player with a revenue of US$2.9 billion in the same period.

This isn’t the e-commerce giant’s first encounter with anti-trust bodies – Germany’s Federal Cartel Office opened investigations into Amazon and Apple Inc. last November after receiving complaints that publishers were being forced to accept “unreasonable conditions” to market their audiobooks.

The European Union also investigated Amazon’s e-book business last year to examine if the contracts included clauses that did not allow publishers to offer more favorable deals outside of Amazon.

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Amazon said about the EU probe that it had full confidence in its agreements with publishers that they were legal and in the best interests of readers.

Along with Germany’s FCO, Britain’s Office of Fair Trading also examined the online retailer’s conditions for third-party ‘Marketplace’ traders between 2012 and 2013 – but both bodies closed their investigations after the companies changed policies that banned sellers from offering products for cheaper off Amazon.