Japan: JFTC to open antitrust probe into Rakuten

The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) announced Wednesday, January 22, it will open an investigation into Rakuten Inc.’s plan to scrap delivery fees for certain purchases on its online shopping site.

“We’ll act appropriately after a necessary investigation,” Shuichi Sugahisa, the antitrust agency’s secretary general, said at a press conference.

The comments came after a group of about 300 tenants at the Rakuten Ichiba cybermall filed a petition with about 4,000 signatures with the JFTC, calling for an order for the company to scrap the free delivery plan.

The group alleges that Rakuten’s move amounts to an abuse of its dominant position, banned under the Antimonopoly Law. These tenants complain that Rakuten’s plan means that they will be forced to pay the delivery costs if they cannot pass them on in the prices they charge.

Tenants have been able to set delivery fees themselves, but Rakuten has announced plans to introduce unified standards, starting March 18.