Amazon Japan says cooperating after raid in antitrust case

Tokyo (AFP) - The Japanese unit of the US internet giant Amazon said on Thursday it was cooperating with authorities after a fair trade watchdog raided its Tokyo headquarters on allegations of antitrust violations.

"We're fully cooperating" with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Amazon Japan said in a statement sent to AFP.

Local media reported the raids were related to allegations that Amazon Japan improperly demanded fees from suppliers, with public broadcaster NHK reporting the firm told suppliers it would stop working with them if they did not pay.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) declined to comment.

Japan's antitrust law prohibits a firm from abusing a superior bargaining position to illicitly make a business partner accept unprofitable trade conditions.

The Asahi Shimbun daily cited sources saying Amazon might have demanded the payments as a result of increased delivery costs.

Amazon Japan last year reportedly agreed to pay up to 40 percent more to domestic delivery service giant Yamato, which said its workforce was struggling to keep up with rising demand for package delivery.

The FTC raided Amazon Japan's offices in 2016 over allegations it improperly pressured retailers selling products on its site.

It was accused of signing contracts with suppliers that required they make their products and prices competitive or at least equal to those offered on rival online retailers.

The commission ended its probe last year after Amazon retracted the requirements.