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Consumer Education and Local Cooperation

Advancing consumer education

The aim of consumer education is to guide consumers to acquire knowledge and skills, link them to appropriate behavior for safe consumer life. Consumer education also has an aspect as an activity of fostering people capable of coming forward to play a key role in society and contribute to its growth.
In December 2012, the Act on Promotion of Consumer Education came into force for the purpose of promoting consumer education in a comprehensive and integrated fashion.
The "Basic Policy on the Promotion of Consumer Education"(decided by the Cabinet, June 2013), which was developed pursuant to this Act, states that the national government and local governments should provide opportunities so that anyone, regardless of where he or she lives, can access consumer education in various settings, including school, home, community and workplace, throughout a lifetime from young age to elderly.

Efforts to reduce food loss and waste

Food loss and waste that, though good to eat, gets thrown out, is estimated to amount to approximately 6.46 million tons (estimated in FY2015) of approximately 28.42 million tons of annual food disposal in Japan.
About half amount of the food loss and waste is generated by general households and comes largely from direct disposal, leftovers and excess removal.
An amount of food loss and waste generated per capita is estimated as much as about 51 kg per year.
The Consumer Affairs Agency has launched knowledge-promoting and education campaigns in order that consumers recognize the importance of reducing food loss and waste and to take actions from a MOTTAINAI (means "What a waste!" express regret over this waste) point of view.

"Direct disposal" means the discarded food as it is, without being used or provided as an ingredient for cooking or food products, for example being past the freshness date.
"Leftovers" means the discarded food without being eaten while being used or provided as a meal.
"Excess removal" means discarding eatable parts of food exceedingly at the time of removal for uneatable parts, such as when peeling the skin from a potato.

Preventing harm to vulnerable consumers such as elderly consumers

In order to effectively prevent harm to vulnerable consumers, such as elderly consumers, to be victimized, it is critical for the local community to "watch over" those people in accordance of their circumstances.
Following a successful pilot project in 2013, the Consumer Affairs Agency provides local government with case examples of leading actions, audiovisual materials and other tools for the people who participate in such vigilance tasks.
The audiovisual materials are also available from the following:

Supporting consumer consulting center staff

Consumer Affairs Centers and other consumer affairs consultation points of contact, which are located in each prefecture and municipality, stand by for consumer consultation. The number of consultation cases brought to contact points nationwide is approximately 1 million per year. They operate as the frontline of consumer affairs administration through services that include providing information and offering advice to consulters, or performing an agent function to work on a possible solution by buffering between the consulter and the business.
The Consumer Affairs Agency provides financial assistance so that each prefecture and municipality should be able to augment their consumer affairs administration by, for instance, establishing a new Consumer Affairs Center or expanding an existing one and training consumer affairs consultants.

First step in times of trouble: Consumer Hotline

The Consumer Affairs Agency operates a consumer Hotline "188".

The phone number is
188
Available in Japanese only

When you call to this number, the CAA will give you a contact to a Consumer Affairs Center or other consumer consultation contact points nearby. The CAA encourages to use the Consumer Hotline for those who do not know where to turn to for consultation on their consumption life issue.

Consumer Hotline for Tourists
The Consumer Hotline for Tourists offers telephone consultation that overseas visitors to Japan can use if they experience consumer issues while visiting Japan.

Telephone number
03-5449-0906
* Standard call rates to the call center will apply.

Reception time
Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (closed weekends, national holidays, and Dec. 29 - Jan. 3)

Languages
English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese

Issues that are covered
Consultations regarding consumer issues (issues involving purchases of merchandise, restaurants and bars, lodging, transportation) which tourists from overseas encounter while visiting Japan.

http://www.kokusen.go.jp/tourists/index.html