Called Sekaimon, the site was launched at 9 a.m. Tokyo time, providing visitors with access to all of eBay's listings in Japanese, as well as listings from Yahoo Japan. The latter company is separate from Yahoo based in the United States.
The cross-border trade agreement mark's eBay's re-entry into the Japanese market. "You should look at this as a sort of (online) trade corridor between Japan and the United States," eBay spokesman Jose Mallabo told InformationWeek.
The company last had a site in Japan in 2002, but closed it after failing to catch Yahoo Japan, which also is the country's largest portal. The joint site, run by the Japanese company Netprice, lets eBay and Yahoo Japan customers sell and bid on items. The agreement also has eBay eventually offering Yahoo Japan listings on its U.S. site. Details of the revenue-sharing deal between the three companies weren't disclosed, Mallabo said.
Softbank and Yahoo own a 41% and 33% stake, respectively, in Yahoo Japan, which has 20 million users.
Besides investments in foreign partnerships, eBay has recently made changes to its site to try to lure people back, particularly buyers who have found eBay difficult to navigate, or believe too many sellers can't be trusted. While the number of active users is still growing, the rate of growth has slowed.
Reopening in Japan may help offset other setbacks in eBay's portfolio this year. Back in October, eBay said it would take a $1.4 billion charge related to the operation of its Internet telephony service Skype, which it had bought two years ago for $2.6 billion. Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom stepped down as head of the unit, and later said eBay had paid too much for the company.