Japan - Commercial Guide
Trade Standards

Describes the country's standards landscape, identifies the national standards and accreditation bodies, and lists the main national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

The Japan Industrial Standards Committee (JISC) plays a central role in standards activities in Japan. Its mission consists of four elements:

  • establishment and maintenance of Japan Industrial Standards (JIS)
  • administration of accreditation and certification
  • participation in international standards activities
  • development of measurement standards and technical infrastructure for standardization. JISC publishes plans each month for the preparation of new and revised JIS drafts on its website 

Existing JIS standards are reviewed and revised every five years. Once a new or revised draft JIS standard has been prepared, JISC posts these draft standards for a sixty-day public comment period. The JISC website also provides information regarding how foreign entities may participate in the JIS drafting process. A list of newly published JIS standards can be found on the website of the Japan Standards Association (JSA) (https://www.jsa.or.jp/en/).

Product Liability Insurance
Japanese business entities are subject to various laws and product safety standards, which vary depending upon the industry or product segment. Japanese importers and distributors of foreign products, in general, cover product liability risk through the product liability clause in their own liability insurance. The covered items and exemptions may vary from underwriter to underwriter and among industry segments. Whether the U.S. exporter will be required to buy product liability insurance to cover worldwide or specific overseas markets for their exports will be subject to negotiation with the firm’s Japanese business partner and the advice of legal counsel.

Testing, inspection and certification
Under the JIS mark scheme, product certification bodies accredited by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) conduct tests to verify compliance of products with JIS and audit the quality management system of facilities at which the products are manufactured. Any products manufactured at a factory that successfully passes such an audit will be authorized to affix the JIS mark. Additional information on this process can be found on the JISC (http://www.jisc.go.jp/eng/jis-mark/newjis-eng.html). 

The two major non-governmental accreditation bodies in Japan are the International Accreditation Japan (IAJapan) - within the quasi-governmental National Institute of Technology and Evaluation and the Japan Accreditation Board (JAB). IAJapan operates several accreditation programs including the Japan National Laboratory Accreditation System (JNLA) and the Japan Calibration Service System (JCSS). A list of laboratories accredited by JAB is available on the JAB website.

A limited number of testing laboratories in the U.S., not listed on the websites noted above, have also been designated by various Japanese government agencies to test and approve U.S. products for compliance with Japanese mandatory certification standards and laws. Products not covered by these arrangements must be tested and approved by Japanese testing labs before these products can be sold in Japan. 

For registered conformity assessment bodies recognized by Japan for electrical appliances visit METI.
For other information on third-party conformity assessment for electrical products visit METI.

Publication of Technical Regulations
Each Japanese ministry posts draft regulations for public comment on their respective websites. These draft regulations can also be found in a consolidated list, available in Japanese, on the e-Gov Portal (https://www.e-gov.go.jp/en/).
The website was designed to help facilitate public participation in Japan’s regulatory process by improving the public's ability to find, view, and comment on regulatory actions.
It should be noted that although U.S. entities may submit comments on draft regulations, the amount of time given for submissions varies widely and all comments must be submitted in Japanese. Finalized technical regulations and standards are published in Japan's national gazette known as the Kanpō (Japanese only).

Notification and the NIST “Notify U.S.” Service
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to notify to the WTO proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures that could affect trade. Notify U.S. (www.nist.gov/notifyus) is a free, web-based e-mail registration service that captures and makes available for review and comment key information on draft regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Users receive customized e-mail alerts when new notifications are added by selected country(ies) and industry sector(s) of interest, and can also request full texts of regulations. This service and its associated web site are managed and operated by the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point housed within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Labeling and Marketing Standards
The "voluntary" Japan Industrial Standards (JIS) mark, administered by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), applies to nearly 743 different industrial product categories and consists of over 10,667 standards as of March 2018. Adherence to JIS is also an important determinant for companies competing on bids in the Japanese government procurement process. Products that comply with these standards will be given preferential treatment in procurement decisions under Japan's Industrial Standardization Law. JIS covers industrial and mineral products with the exception of: 1) medicines; 2) agricultural chemicals; 3) chemical fertilizers; and 4) foodstuffs, agricultural and forest products designated under the Law Concerning Standardization and Proper Labeling of Agricultural and Forestry Products.

The Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS) is another "voluntary" but widely used product standard system administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The Council for Agricultural and Forestry Standards, a JAS Council consisting of consumers, manufacturers, commercial users, and academic experts, establishes JAS’s standards. Existing JAS Standards are reviewed every five years by each JAS Council.

JAS certification is a complicated process requiring approval by a Registered (Overseas) Certified Body (ROCB). At this time there are only four approved ROCB for forest products and three for organic products. The current list of approved ROCBs can be found on the MAFF.

More information on the JAS labeling system can be found at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

On April 1, 2015, the Government of Japan consolidated portions of several different laws that applied to the labeling of food and agricultural products under one comprehensive food labeling law. The most notable change is the requirement for mandatory nutritional labeling for processed products: Japanese importers are now responsible for ensuring nutritional labels meet the requirements of the new law. More information on the comprehensive labeling law can be found in the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency’s “Nutrition Labeling Systems in Japan: situations and issues” briefing paper.

As noted above, Japanese laws requiring product certification and labeling are numerous. A good reference for additional information on these requirements is JETRO's Handbooks for Industrial and Consumer Product Import Regulations, including specifications, standards and testing methods for foodstuffs, implements, containers and packaging, toys and detergents (https://www.jetro.go.jp/en/reports/regulations ).

Contact Information
Japan Industrial Standards Committee (JISC)
Secretariat Office
Tel: (81-3) 3501-9471; email: jisc@meti.go.jp

Japanese Standards Association (JSA) (https://www.jsa.or.jp/en/)
Secretariat Office

Tel: (81-3) 4231-8650; email: po@jsa.or.jp

Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) on Standards and Regulations)
National Metrology Institute of Japan (NMIJ)
Building Center of Japan (BCJ) )
Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC)
Japan Cable Television Engineering Association (JCTEA)
Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB)

Conformity Assessment Bodies 
Japan Accreditation Board for Conformity Assessment (JAB)

Customer Service, General Affairs Dept.
Tel: (81-3) 3442-1210; fax: (81-3) 5475-2780

International Accreditation Japan (IAJapan)

Quality Manager
Tel: (81-3) 3481-1946; fax: (81-3) 3481-1937

Japan National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE)
Measurement Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (MLAP))
Japan National Laboratory Accreditation System (JNLA)

Japan Calibration Service System (JCSS)
Accreditation System of National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (ASNITE)
Third-party Conformity Assessment for Electrical Products in Japan (PSE)

Japanese Draft Standards, Regulations and Public Comment (e-Gov)
Japan's National Gazette (Kanpō) (http://kanpou.npb.go.jp)  (Japanese only)