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FTC raids Amazon Japan over suspected antitrust violation

Kyodo

Japan’s antitrust watchdog raided the office of Amazon.com Inc.’s unit in the country Thursday, for allegedly violating the antitrust law by having its suppliers shoulder part of the costs to cover discounts the retailer applied on goods.

The Fair Trade Commission conducted the on-site inspection on the online retailer suspecting that it has demanded such payments at least since last year, sources close to the matter said.

“We will fully cooperate with the commission’s inspection,” Amazon Japan K.K. said.

It is suspected that the suppliers have been complying with Amazon’s demands so that they can continue to sell their products through its wider sales network.

Japan’s antitrust law prohibits a party holding in a position of strength from using that position to illicitly earn profits from other parties by making demands, such as asking for money.

Aside from selling products on its own site, Amazon also sells products on behalf of other companies that pay a fee to use its platform.

In August 2016, Amazon Japan was raided on suspicion of signing contracts with suppliers under which they agreed to make their product lineups and prices competitive or at least equal compared with rival online retailers.

The commission terminated its probe on the matter in June 2017 once the company retracted such conditions. There was no decision on whether the antitrust law had been violated.