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Yahoo Japan copies Alibaba in bid to take on Amazon and Rakuten

Company looks to China's e-commerce giant as online and physical retail converge

Yahoo Japan still depends heavily on ad fees gleaned from its media sites, but it wants to build up its e-commerce business and Alibaba seems the ideal template.

TOKYO -- Perpetual e-commerce laggard Yahoo Japan wants to overtake giants Amazon.com and Rakuten to become Japan's leading online retailer, and it is copying the playbook of China's Alibaba Group to do it.

The strategy has been facilitated in part by SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son, the first president and chairman of Yahoo Japan. Son also invested heavily in Alibaba founder Jack Ma in 2000. Yahoo Japan is now adapting Ma's approach to combining e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail to further boost earnings.

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