Update on used electronics restrictions – some good news

Update to an earlier post where I discussed Japan’s new restrictions on sales of second hand electronics. I’ll start by summarizing what I know about the issue so far, and then add the good news at the end.

To summarize, Japan is (from April 1) requiring that most used electronics older than 5 years of age must be certified as electrically safe for usage before resale, which puts a serious cramp in the business of small scale used goods stores. While few people really care about being able to get their hands on a decade old refrigerator or rice cooker, fans of vintage electronic musical instruments were particularly outraged, and organized a strong campaign against the new regulations.

This issue became widely discussed on the English internet when retro gaming fans became scared that sales of used consoles would become illegal. I pointed out that foreign export sales of all items will remain unrestricted, which is at least a boon to retro electronics fans outside of Japan, but it could still potentially cause problems for Japanese gamers.

Since the regulations are about electrical safety, in the case of units that operate off of an external power supply, it seems that only the power supply itself will be tested, and there will also be a grace period of 2 additional years before regulations regarding AC adapters and power cords come into effect. Now, it would be possibly to replace the old power supply with a newer one of the correct voltage/amperage, but that’s a rather serious step for an ordinary gaming store, and would probably cause serious price increase. Also, there are unfortunately a few models of consoles that integrated the power supply, which means that they will be affected right on April 1, without the AC adapter related grace period.

HOWEVER, thanks to an anonymous comment, I noticed that there is some very good news on this front. In fact, I’ll just repost the text of the comment below, since it covers it pretty well.

Yesterday March 14, 2006 the Japanese ministry in charge of the PSE law and its interpretation announced that “Vintage Electric Equipment” including guitar amps, audio, electric musical instruments, and electric powered photographic equipment etc. will be exempted from full PSE testing requirements, and will be allowed to sell after a simplified registration procedure is followed by the merchant.

For those who can read Japanese, see news item at Yahoo Japan:

Also notice that major second-hand audio retailer HiFi Do had already registered with the ministry as a re-manufacturer of used audio equipment and has set itself up to do fully compliant testing and certification, and also will equip each piece of used equipment they sell (after testing and modifying the equipment to comply with the law) with a properly registered PSE sticker.

See http://www.hifido.co.jp/merumaga/osu_sale/060310/

So this means the good Ryuichi Sakamoto (who campaigned against the law prohibiting sale of vintage synthesizers etc.) and his friends were successful.

Check out that last link for a neat series of photos of the solder-smiths at Hifido testing, repairing, and certifying equipment under the new PSE regulations (the source of the above image.)

According to the Mainichi Shinbum, the Japanese Synthesizer Programmers Association delivered a petition with 75,000 signatures to the PSE office, prompting their decision to reclassify musical equipment. This is obviously great news for fans of vintage music and photographic equipment, it also offers hope to retro gamers. While gaming machines (software and peripherals are of course safe, since they aren’t serious electrical conduits) are still classified as restricted items, this decision clearly opens the door for their inclusion on the list of vintage, exempt, items. While their may not be a Japanese Vintage Gaming Association, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some higher-ups from companies like Nintendo or Sega step forward and ask the government not to cordon off their legacy with red tape.

6 thoughts on “Update on used electronics restrictions – some good news”

  1. Hey guys, well done. I appreciated your well thought-out post detailing the upcoming restrictions. I first learned about the Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law through a blurb on NHK news last week, but didn’t bother looking it up before writing about it on my blog . I definitely appreciate the info and the useful links. Thanks!

  2. why not package every console with a music cd or special music-only cartridge and claim it’s for audio playing purposes only.

  3. Hello all foreign people, who are interested in this issue.

    I have got disappointed with Japanese mass media’s
    negligence to report the essence of this problem.

    Is there any country, in which government decides what vintage is ?

    Please be informed that the essence of the problem, shared among
    Japanese networkers.

    1.The safety will not improve by enacting the PSE law,
    because there is no difference about guidelines between PSE law
    and previous law.
    Or the safety will get worse for foreign merchandise are to be
    imported blindly if it is with PSE seal.

    2.The PSE law does NOT represent old.
    No lawmakers have discussed old electric/electoronic appliances
    and there is no representaion about “old”and “secondhand”
    on the law.

    3.The PSE law is of the bureaucrat by the bureaucrat for
    the bureaucrat.

    Goverment enforces it’s application to old electric/electronic
    appliances, because inspection organizations have
    gaven seats to many old bureaucrats with annual
    income over 10 million JPY or86,300 USD.

    4.The law is anticonstitutional.
    Ban on trade of old electric/electronic appliances means
    property and inventory turn to zero on balanse sheet,
    as their market values will be zero.

    5.Big gap between networkers and majority of people
    As mass media contiunes to ignore above points,
    there are serious perception gap between networkers
    and majority of people.

    Thank you for reading about this shameful law.

    Best regards,

  4. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/20060324TDY08004.htm

    The above link explains in English that the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry of Japan has decided to exempt vintage equipment from the “PSE Law” and Vintage Equipment is defined as audio equipment, electric musical instruments, cinema projectors, photo-developing machines and enlargers made or discontinued by 1989.

    For us who love audio equipment, it still leaves a lot of great equipment made between 1989 and 2001. Luckily some second hand dealers like http://www.hifido.co.jp/merumaga/osu_sale/060310/ will re-certify all the second-hand audio equipment they sell according to regulations in the new PSE law (because HiFi-Do has registered with the ministry as a re-manufacturer of the equipment, and they take legal responsibility for the equipment they sell regardless of which year it was originally made).

    Cheers! (Stig of LYRA, an audio manufacturer in Japan)

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