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Amazon Japan raises delivery fees by up to 50%

Rising costs and labor shortage may prompt other online retailers to follow suit

U.S. online retailer Amazon is rapidly expanding its presence in Japan's internet shopping market.

TOKYO -- Amazon Japan on Wednesday said it has raised delivery charges for inexpensive orders by up to 50%, a move intended to share some of the burden of rising shipping costs with consumers. This is the first time in two years Amazon has raised its delivery charges in Japan.

The U.S. online retailer has been rapidly expanding its presence in Japan's internet shopping market. But it has also been criticized for helping to exacerbate manpower shortages among the country's delivery operators, including Yamato Transport.

In autumn last year, Amazon Japan agreed with Yamato to raise the delivery fees it pays to the courier service by about 40%.

Beginning with orders placed Wednesday, shoppers will be charged up to 440 yen ($4.13) for delivery of purchases under 2,000 yen, up from the previous single rate of 330 yen. Rates for next-day delivery will be raised to a maximum 540 yen, a jump of up to 50%.

Deliveries of purchases by Amazon Prime subscribers who pay the annual 3,900 yen membership fee will remain free of charge.

Amazon's move to partially transfer the rising costs to consumers will likely motivate other online retailers to follow suit. Amazon Japan explained that the decision this time came as a result of comprehensive examination of various business circumstances.

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