In response to massive protest (including a petition drive with 75,000 signatures), the government has compromised to weaken the abonimable PSE Law (previous MF posts on the law that will end vintage electronics sales in Japan as we know it here, here, and here) to exempt vintage musical instruments and allow dealers to perform the required electrical safety tests themselves. The govt even intends to establish government-sponsored testing centers to facilitate implementation of the law. Furthermore, they have said that conducting the PSE test will not open the seller to liability for the product’s electrical safety. (Source: Nikkei March 21 Morning Edition – not online yet). Unfortunately, the government has only decided to exempt some products from the law etc, not exactly the acknowldgement of antique electronics sales that the Synthesizer Programmer Assoc. wanted.
Back on March 5, the very idea of a law that would needlessly outlaw vintage electronics had populist blogger Kikko angry. She made a very good point in her rant on the evils of the law (paraphrased because Kikko’s writing style is impossible to translate):
Anyway, Environmental Destruction Minister Yuriko Koike is spreading the Japanese word “mottainai” around the world and running a movement to take care of our things. Yuriko Koike said, “The 20th century was to produce, consume, and dispose in mass quantities, but what’s important in the 21st century is the “3 R’s”, or how to effectively use natural resources, or the beautiful Japanese virtue of ‘mottainai.'” Anyway, these “3 R’s” are to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and she is saying we should promote these “3 R’s” as the “spirit of mottainai.”
Well, if it were just Yuriko Koike saying this it would be OK, but wa-wa-wa-wait! Even Koizumi promoted this “spirit of mottainai” (after hearing it from Koike) to the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations. If what we are promoting to the leaders of foreign nations as taking care of our things is to “ban the sale of used electronics” then that is nothing more than superficial diplomacy! For the prime minister to be simultaneously promoting “recycling” to other countries while at the same time promoting a law that destroys recycle shops is, in fact, the true worth of Koizumi, a fully exposed irresponsibility. No matter how nice the things he says are, if what he does is the complete opposite then it means nothing.
People with electronics they don’t need sell them at the recycle shop, and those who cannot buy new electronics purchase them at the recycle shop. If an electronics product breaks after years of use, you can get it fixed and use it very carefully. Isn’t that the “3 R’s”? Isn’t that the “spirit of mottainai”?
Meanwhile, the supposedly left-wing. anti-government Asahi has printed a remarkably pro-government column on the PSE issue:
The Safety of Electronics Products
March 20, 2006
Of course, products made after the law came into effect are no problem, but there has been scandal over products produced before that. Generally, there are many electronics that are used for more than 5 years with no problem. Many are sold at recycle shops.
METI announced that it would exempt especially rare products including electronic musical instruments from the law, and make it easier to receive the PSE Mark. This is an attempt to stifle confusion, but the scandal is likely to continue.
Meanwhile, METI has begun deliberations over revising the law from the perspective of electronic safety. There are many electronics products used for more than 10 years. Since there is no obligation for point-by-point inspection, like that for cars, for such products, it is difficult to determine which consumers have products that must be recalled or repaired. There are those within the industry calling for a system of regular point-by-point inspections.
Despite recent inroads by Korea and China, Japan remains the electronics kingdom, home to a great number of global producers. By securing a world-reknowned electronics safety system, we should take the lead over neighboring countries such as Korea and China.
Um, thanks for making that clear? How exactly would banning the sale of vintage electronics help Japan compete against Korea and China? I’d really like to see some proof.
I guess it’s the same logic that Japanese companies use when they pressure their employees to purchase their company’s products to make up for a lag in sales. Sure, forcing people to buy electronics may help sales in the short term, but it will surely help kill people’s long-term relationships with their electronics when they are forced to replace them every few years as they are with automobiles.