PSE Law update: Call for comments

You may remember the April 2006 flap about a law in Japan that bans the sales of a whole slew of used electronics, such as the original Playstation and used musical instruments, unless they could be tested to earn a seal proving their electrical safety. In response to massive protest from musicians and secondhand retailers, the relevant ministry, Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), came up with a stopgap solution – allow and assist dealers in performing the tests themselves – that would supposedly. help ease the burden on the “recycle” industry. I, lacking the intuition to know a half-baked compromise idea when I see one, declared METI’s bone-throw along with other loopholes in the law to have “thoroughly declawed” the painful aspects of the PSE Law.

However, a recent survey conducted by the “Japan Reuse Association” indicates the following:

  • 47% of secondhand electronics retailers have stopped selling affected recycled goods that don’t already have the PSE mark;
  • 33% are inspecting and affixing the PSE stickers themselves;
  • 6% are making use of a “rental” scheme in which buyers of affected goods sign a rental contract for the goods but never actually have to return it and pay a rental fee equal to what would have been the purchase price; and finally,
  • 6% are ignoring the law and selling affected goods as they always have.
  • So regardless of METI’s attempt to ease the transition, if this survey is correct the new regulations are significantly harming the industry, and by extension, consumers. In that sense, the “assistance measures” taken up by METI seem to have had only limited effect.

    So to get the real scoop, here’s what I want to know from you: is this what it looks like on the ground? Can one easily buy old Playstations/Dreamcasts/Saturns etc at the “recycle” shops in Japan?

    Now keep in mind this survey came from an industry group chaired by a Mr. Koichiro Ogawa, a secondhand “wholesaler” and former chair of the “Association to Consider the PSE Issue” who was quoted in many articles during the PSE scare. The group was founded specifically to try and get the law amended so that it makes sense.