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Amazon removes lowest price clause for Kindle eBook sales in Japan

Amazon boxes (Mainichi)

Publishers selling through online retail giant Inc.'s Kindle eBook store will no longer have to keep their prices equal to or lower than those for the same items sold through Amazon's rivals, following a change to e-book store contracts.

Amazon Services International, Inc. -- an Amazon affiliate that offers e-books in Japan -- abolished the pricing clause in its seller contracts, according to an announcement by the Japan Fair Trade Commission on Aug. 15.

Before the clause was removed, Amazon Services International had also asked suppliers to take certain steps regarding product range, in addition to retail price. Specifically, the firm had asked vendors to stock either the same product range, or a wider one, than that offered by rival firms.

However, on Aug. 4, it is understood that the Japan Fair Trade Commission received a report from Amazon Services International, stating that the latter had independently re-examined this particular clause.

The contractual clause in question is referred to as a "most favored nation (MFN)" treatment clause. The Japanese company Amazon Japan GK has also used the MFN clause -- in its business arrangements with firms that sell via the online retail site, "Amazon Marketplace." Amazon Japan was investigated over this clause by the Japan Fair Trade Commission on suspicion of violating the Antimonopoly Act, but the investigation process was dropped in June, after the Japanese firm showed that it had re-examined its policy.

Speaking on the matter, a PR spokesperson for Amazon Japan said, "We will continue to strive toward improving our e-book reading experience."

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