Amazon Japan has revealed that its offices in the country have been raided by the Japanese fair trade regulator on suspicion of a possible anti-trust violation.
An Amazon Japan spokesperson has told news agencies that it is fully cooperating with the Fair Trade Commission but has declined to elaborate or offer further comment or details about the suspected violations that prompted the raid.
So what exactly are the concerns? It’s not clear but various news sources have ideas. One local media outlet says that Amazon has illegally required merchants to cover a proportion of the costs when they discount their products during promotions. Another local newspaper reported that Amazon allegedly demanded they also asked suppliers for a “collaboration fee.”
But the general thrust seems to be that Amazon has allegedly been requesting kick-backs when its discounting goods for shoppers from merchants and suppliers. Japanese TV broadcaster NHK has also reported that Amazon told suppliers it would stop taking their goods for sale if they refused to pay the fees. But that’s all unconfirmed.
Amazon has previously been subject to scrutiny from the Japanese authorities. After a previous anti-trust probe, the Fair Trade Commission discovered that Amazon required merchants selling their products on multiple marketplaces list them on Amazon Japan at the same or a lower price. Amazon Japan agreed to drop the practice and the regulators ended their investigation. A similar situation occurred in Europe a few years back.
So far the Japan Fair Trade Commission has declined to comment on the raid.