Amazon Japan has begun online sales of over-the-counter drugs such as cold and digestive medicines, as well as vitamin supplements and other low-risk pharmaceutical products.

The online retailer's move came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration lifted a ban on online drug sales as part of its growth strategy in June.

At the same time, a group in the health ministry is compiling new rules for conducting drug sales via the Internet — and encouraging online retailers to compile and retain their customer contact lists.

Retail partners on the Amazon Japan site are selling cold drugs and other medicines designated as "category 2," as well as lower-risk "category 3" drugs.

Amazon Japan itself is considering selling drugs directly in the future, including "category 1" drugs deemed to have a higher risk of side effects.

Amazon's entry only increases the competition in online sales, following the lead of such drugstores as Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings Co., Welcia Holdings Co. and Sundrug Co.

Partner retailers on Rakuten Inc.'s online shopping mall site also are selling drugs, as are retailing giants Aeon Co. and Bic Camera Inc.