Major Japanese dailies Asahi and Yomiuri, who rarely agree, have both come out in favor of postponing enforcement of the mandatory electrical safety testing of used electronics and appliances (known as the PSE Law and last mentioned on MF here). The Yomiuri is especially hard on METI, the government ministry responsible for the confusion:
Ministry to blame for PSE mark confusion
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The current confusion arising from the planned introduction of the product safety of electrical appliances and materials (PSE) mark must be dismissed as the result of the makeshift policy on the issue adopted by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry. There are concerns that the confusion could worsen.
All this has caused the ministry to hurriedly reverse its policy, permitting the sale of vintage instruments and some other items without the PSE mark. The abrupt change indicates the ministry may be willing to acknowledge it has not properly prepared to introduce the PSE program.
However, the ministry remains unclear on the kind of criteria it will set for instruments to qualify as vintage. The government has not yet established procedures for secondhand instrument dealers to get their products recognized as vintage.
It will take dealers time and money to inspect their products. The ministry has devised measures to aid dealers in this respect, including lending necessary testing equipment free of charge and establishing 500 inspection stations across the country.
However, it is still unknown when these steps will be fully implemented. Such stopgap measures only exacerbate the turmoil.
The ministry does not intend to extend the grace period, saying some dealers have strived to prepare for the start of the PSE system, knowing the grace period would finish at the end of March.
Even so, the ministry needs to think harder about ensuring the smooth start of the new system. To clear up the confusion among retailers and consumers, the ministry must reveal as soon as possible when the measures to aid dealers will be implemented. We believe extending the grace period is unavoidable if the ministry needs more time to work out the planned measures in further detail.
Asahi seems to have toned down their language for the English translation. The original Japanese headline was clear as crystal: “Put a Moratorium on Enforcement of the PSE Mark.”
EDITORIAL/ Product safety system
Despite these eleventh-hour changes, the ministry plans to put the new rules into effect in April, as scheduled. Still, many used electrical products sellers argue convincingly that the government should pay more attention to used electrical appliances than to vintage musical products, which admittedly are used only by a few enthusiasts.
We agree that enforcing the new regulations as they are would not be wise. Even though more than 1,000 accidents involving home electrical appliances were reported in fiscal 2004 and the need for greater safety measures is obvious, many people have grave doubts about the new system.
The used electrical appliance market is now worth 100 billion yen. If trade in such products is banned, that means we must throw away tons of used electrical gadgets. That would be a senseless waste.
Instead of renting out test equipment, the ministry should freeze its plan for six months and work out a better plan to ensure the safety of used electrical products. Then it should make all-out efforts to inform the general public, and the businesses affected, of all about the system.