• Kyodo

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Employees of online shopping mall Rakuten Inc. instructed merchants to falsify prices of products in violation of consumer protection laws, according to some of the Internet mall’s tenants.

Rakuten revealed the price mislabeling last November for special sales honoring the victory by the Rakuten Eagles in the Japan Series, but without discussing whether its own employees had been involved in the illegal act.

“If it were true, it would have been a grave violation of company rules we cannot ignore,” a Rakuten representative said. “We would like to impose a strict punishment.”

The Consumer Affairs Agency will look into the matter, an official said.

An online merchant selling fresh food products said a Rakuten employee claiming to be an electronic commerce consultant asked the tenant in 2011 to double regular prices and offer a 50 percent discount to deceive consumers.

Other retailers pointed to similar instructions by Rakuten consultants. When announcing the incident in November, Rakuten slapped 17 tenants with a one-month sales suspension.

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