Authorities from the European Union, Canada and the United States have started an investigation into three major Japanese chemical firms, suspecting they have formed a pricing monopoly for a substance used to increase the strength of vinyl chloride products, sources said Friday.

The overseas subsidiaries of Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Kureha Chemical Industry Co. and Kaneka Corp. are being investigated in connection with the alleged pricing monopoly for chemical agents known as modifiers.

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