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Japan antitrust probe to target Amazon, Rakuten and beyondND

Kosuke Takeuchi and Junichi Sugihara, Nikkei Asian Review, Wednesday 27th February 2019

Japanese antitrust authorities are set to launch a probe into Amazon Japan, Rakuten and Yahoo Japan, who are suspected of forcing online vendors into shouldering an unfair burden in rewarding customers through loyalty programs, Nikkei Asian Review has reported. The Japanese Fair Trade Commission is investigating changes in Amazon Japan’s reward program taking effect in late May that would require vendors to shoulder the costs. Such arrangements, similarly found at Rakuten and Yahoo Japan, essentially cut into vendors’ revenue, adding to the fees they already pay to hosting platforms. The probe is part of a braod investigation into big tech companies launched by the regulator at the start of this year. With the influence gained by Amazon recently, the government is scrambling to find the right balance between encouraging growth and protecting smaller businesses. Tokyo is starting to consider concrete measures to regulate platform operators, including steps to prevent excessive concentration of data. A plan to tackle the issue will be incorporated into the government's growth strategy due out this summer.

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