Japan Agency Asks for Delay to Rakuten’s Free Shipping

(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s Fair Trade Commission asked a Tokyo court to delay Rakuten Inc.’s plan to begin offering free shipping on March 18, citing concerns about how the initiative would affect commerce in the country.

The JFTC, which oversees business practices in Japan, made the announcement saying that Rakuten’s free shipping plans could unfairly disadvantage some of the sellers on the platform. The agency is still investigating their full impact on the market.

The Japanese e-commerce giant has been struggling against Amazon.com Inc. after helping to pioneer online shopping in the country. Rakuten said this month that the JFTC had started a probe into its free shipping plans and requested the company’s voluntary cooperation. Rakuten said at the time it believed its free shipping program is in accordance with antitrust law and would maintain its scheduled mid-March start.

Chief Executive Officer Hiroshi Mikitani tweeted about a month ago that free shipping would debut as planned next month.

Separately, Rakuten is expected to unveil pricing plans next week for a wireless network it has been building in Japan, making it the fourth competitor in a market against NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp.

Read more: SoftBank Faces Pressure If Rakuten Embraces Unlimited Data Plans

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