Govt to Require Overseas Businesses Appoint Supervisors in Japan; Increasing Responsibility for Safety Regulations

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry

The government will require overseas businesses that sell products in Japan via the internet to appoint someone in Japan to supervise safety management and troubleshooting, according to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.

The measures are intended to tackle the increasing number of incidents involving overseas products purchased online. Through the supervisor, the government will be able to request the removal of products if they do not meet Japanese safety standards. The ministry aims to revise associated laws during the current Diet session and hopes to put them into effect in 2025.

The current laws related to the safety of products set standards for 493 items, including electrical and gas appliances, under which the government has required importers and sellers of overseas products to comply. However, in recent years, products that violate national safety standards have been sold directly to consumers through online malls, such as, Inc., which are collections of online stores.

The government will revise these laws and require overseas businesses to appoint a domestic supervisor in Japan to clarify responsibility in the event of trouble. It is assumed that a branch office or import business operator of the foreign businesses will act as the supervisor.

If there is a violation of laws or regulations, the ministry will request a product recall or free replacement through the domestic supervisor. If they do not comply with the request, the names of the business and domestic supervisor will be publicized. If there is a risk of danger to consumers and the seller does not take necessary measures, the government can request the online mall operator delist the products.

Under the law revision, products for children will be designated as specified products that require greater safety. Manufacturers and importers of these products will be required to display information about the items, such as the target age group and precautions for use. The ministry said that the products will likely include toys for younger children, strollers and baby carriers.

According to the ministry, the number of serious incidents caused by products obtained online has increased from 73 in 2019 to 103 in 2022. There have also been cases of fires caused by mobile batteries made overseas and a hole being opened in a child’s internal organs after they accidentally swallowed a toy that contained powerful magnets.