According to an informed source, Airbnb Japan, the Japan office of the U.S. company Airbnb, the world’s leading online service brokering private lodgings, known as minpaku in Japan, to tourists, is being investigated by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) on suspicion of violating the Antimonopoly Law on account of its demand that agents not do business with other online lodging services. The FTC believes that Airbnb’s actions may obstruct fair competition among lodging sites.
Airbnb’s agents sign contracts with minpaku property owners, register these properties online, set the accommodation charges, and respond to customers’ emails. They also take charge of cleaning rooms, handling room keys, and other necessary operations for minpaku. There are dozens of agents in Japan and they receive a commission of 10-40% for their work. There are 10 or so other online services engaged in businesses similar to Airbnb’s and they receive a commission of a few percent of the charge paid by the guests.
According to the above source, Airbnb demands that agents asking to register their properties on its website not do business with the other online services as a condition. There are cases where this requirement is stated explicitly in the contract. (Abridged)