Amazon Japan offices raided by antitrust authorities

Amazon Japan offices raided by antitrust authorities

Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has raided the offices of Amazon in Japan on suspicion of it pressuring retailers to offer products at lower prices than on rival sites, Reuters has reported.

The Nikkei Business Daily, the Japanese newspaper cited by Reuters, did not say when the raid took place, but cited unidentified sources with knowledge of the case. A Japan Fair Trade Commission spokesman said he could not confirm the report and an Amazon Japan spokeswoman declined to comment.

However, a Japanese lawyer specialising in antimonopoly law, Nobuyoshi Suzuki, told the Wall Street Journal that the raid was unlikely to have a big commercial impact on the e-commerce giant, which is likely to be serviced with a cease-and-desist order issued by the antitrust regulator.

“It won’t lead to Amazon Japan having to cease its operations here, but rival businesses could sue Amazon for compensatory damages,” Suzuki said.

Amazon Japan's website booked net sales of $8.3bn (£6.36bn) last year, equivalent to 7.7% of Amazon's worldwide net sales. By comparison, main rival Rakuten Inc recorded e-commerce revenue in Japan of $2.9bn (£1.68bn) in the same period.

Amazon's practices toward retailers and e-commerce partners have also come under scrutiny in Europe.

In 2015, the European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into the way Amazon distributes e-books and its relationship with publishers and German antitrust authorities also investigated Amazon, along with Apple, about their audiobook sales agreements.