The Japan Fair Trade Commission raided the nation’s top three shipping companies — NYK Line, MOL and “K” Line — Thursday for allegedly violating the antitrust law in transporting automobiles and other exports.
All three companies are based in Tokyo.
An NYK Line spokesman told The Journal of Commerce the company was searched by the JFTC on suspicion of violating the antitrust law in exporting automobiles and other goods, including vehicle-type construction machinery. “We will fully cooperate with the JFTC’s investigation,” he said.
“K” Line also issued a brief statement making a similar confirmation.
An MOL spokeswoman confirmed the JFTC raid to the JOC. “It is true that our company has been searched by the JFTC. We will fully cooperate with their investigation,” she said, although she declined to give further details.
The JFTC has not issued any statement.
Citing unidentified sources, Japanese media reports said more than 10 shipping companies, including Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Korea's Eukor Car Carriers, both subsidiaries of Norway's Wilh. Wilhemsen ASA, were searched on Thursday.
Oslo-based Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA said Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Eukor, in which it holds 50 percent and 40 percent stakes, respectively, are fully cooperating with the investigation.
The shipping firms are suspected of having formed a cartel to coordinate fare hikes for transporting automobiles and other exports from Japan to Europe, the U.S. and other Asian markets, the reports said.
NYK Line, MOL and “K” Line alone account for more than half of the relevant Japanese market, which is estimated to be worth between 200 billion yen ($2.55 billion) and 300 billion yen ($3.82 billion) per annum, The Nikkei reported.
The shipping affiliates of Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. are also among the companies raided by the JFTC, the Japanese business daily reported.