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Activities of strengthening local consumer administration | Summary -Part 1 Chapter 1, Section 3-

Part 1 : Today's consumer issues and consumers' behavior/attitude
Chapter 1 : [Feature] For the enhancement and strengthening of local consumer administration
Section 3 : Activities of strengthening local consumer administration

Promotion of the establishment of local consultation systems, consumer education, etc. based on the subsidies for vitalizing local consumer administration

  • The national government started granting the "subsidies for vitalizing local consumer administration" to prefectural governments in fiscal 2008.
  • Each local government can choose a menu by itself, but most of them selected the projects for establishing "systems for educating and edifying consumers, etc.," "systems for assigning and increasing consumer affairs consultants," and "local consumer affairs centers and consultation offices."
  • Through the utilization of these subsidies, the number of consumer affairs consultants increased by 567 and the number of local consumer affairs centers grew by 285 between fiscal 2009 and the beginning of fiscal 2015.

Figure1-3-1 How "the subsidies for vitalizing local consumer administration" have been utilized (FY 2009 to 2014)

Setting of 5 goals in "the campaign for strengthening local consumer administration"

  • In order to establish local systems for enabling consumers to receive high-quality consultation and relief services as well as to secure safety and remove anxiety anywhere they live, 5 goals were set through the “campaign for strengthening local consumer administration,” which was enacted in January 2014 and revised in March 2015.
  • We attained the goal of making all regions have a consultation system at the end of FY 2014.
  • Consumer administration systems vary among local governments, and some goals are yet to be achieved.

"Campaign for strengthening local consumer administration" and its progress

A consultation office for consumer affairs established in every municipality

  • Initiatives were commenced for making every region have a consultation system.
  • In FY 2010, 241 local governments did not have a consultation office, but in FY 2015, every local government had a consultation office. The ratio of local governments that have a consultation office became 100% in FY 2015.

Figure1-3-5 Local governments that do not have a consultation office for consumer affairs consultations

50% of municipalities have a local consumer affairs center under the Consumer Safety Act

  • “Local consumer affairs centers” are being established under the Consumer Safety Act.
  • When we see municipalities, excluding the prefectures that are obliged to have a local consumer affairs center and the government-designated cities that have already established a local consumer affairs center, we can find that 50% of municipalities have a local consumer affairs center in FY 2015.
  • As population decreases, the ratio of municipalities that have a local consumer affairs center declines.

Figure1-3-7 Changes in the total number of municipalities and the number of municipalities that have a local consumer affairs center

Figure1-3-8 Ratio of municipalities that have a local consumer affairs center for each population range (FY2015)

Although the number of consumer affairs consultants has increased, the ratio of assigning them varies

  • In order to improve consultation systems, it is important to secure consumer affairs consultants and brush up their abilities.
  • The number of consumer affairs consultants in Japan increased by 567 from 2,800 to 3,367 between FY 2009 and FY 2015.
  • The ratio of assigning consumer affairs consultants varies among local governments.
  • The ratio of qualified consumer affairs consultants increased. The opportunities to participate in training, too, increased.

Figure1-3-13 Ratio of municipalities (excluding governmentdesignated cities) that assign consumer affairs consultants Figure1-3-14 Ratio of qualified consumer affairs consultants

The number of the "consumer hotline" is now 3-digit, so that consumers can consult easily

  • The "consumer hotline," whose number is common nationwide, will connect consumers to a nearby consultation office for consumer affairs established by local governments.
  • To allow consumers to remember and use the number more easily, the number of the "consumer hotline" became 3-digit "188 (I-ya-ya, which implies irritation)" in July 2015.
  • The number of calls almost doubled, from the time when the 10-digit number was used. It is still necessary to popularize this number more.

Consumer hotline 188 poster

The establishment of consultation systems helped us find consumer problems and deal with consumer problems of elderly people

  • Since a consultation office was established at every municipality in Japan, the number of consultations at municipalities is increasing.
  • Especially, elderly people tend to consult a nearby office.
  • It seems that the establishment of consultation systems could help us find consumer problems, prevent elderly people from consumer harm, and rescue them early.

Figure1-3-22 Changes in the number of consultations at local governments

Figure1-3-23 Ratio of elderly people who consulted in each local government

As consultation offices at municipalities have increased, the number of mediation cases rose

  • Among consumer problems, those concerning the contracts for communications services have become complex. Accordingly there are an increasing number of cases in which it is difficult for consumers to solve problems by themselves.
  • Consultation offices in consumers' neighborhoods are suited for mediation, in which consumer affairs consultants or staff in charge negotiate for solving the problems between consumers and businesses.
  • As the number of consultation offices increased, the rate of mediation grew.
  • The rate of mediation is high in municipalities where elderly people who cannot solve problems by themselves often consult.

Figure1-3-24 Ratio of mediation cases and resolved cases for each local government (FY2015)

Figure1-3-17 The number and ratio of mediation cases, and the number of resolved cases