Legal System Planning
Consumer Contract Act
The Consumer Contract Act, which came into force in 2001, has enabled consumers to cancel any contract resulting from unjust solicitation. If a contract contains any unjust contractual clause, that contractual clause itself will be invalidated.
The latest revision was made in 2018. In consideration of lowering age of adulthood in Japan, the Consumer Affairs Agency revised the Act, in which several cancelable, unjust solicitous acts and voidable, unjust contract clauses are added. Main revisions are as follows.
The revised Act newly provides further five acts as unjust solicitation for cancellation of contracts as follows:
- Exploiting inexperience of consumers in social life
- - Solicitation with fear representation
- - Abuse of personal relationships by taking advantage of romantic feelings
- Exploiting consumers reduced ability to judge due to aging
- Representation by using perception through supernatural abilities
- Implementing the need of consumers before concluding contract
- Relaxing the requirements for concealing disadvantageous facts
The revised Act also provides additional two unjust contract clauses as voidable clauses as follows:
- Cancellation clauses if a consumer becomes an adult ward
- Clauses which business operators decide their responsibilities by themselves
Consumer Organization Collective Litigation System (Injunction demand and redress for damage)
Since 2007, the Consumer Organization Collective Litigation System has enabled qualified entities (refers to following "Qualified Consumer Organization" and "Specified Qualified Consumer Organization") certified by the Prime Minister to launch a judicial or extrajudicial action against a business operator for the protection of consumer interests.
According to the basic principles of civil litigation, a consumer as the victim should file a lawsuit against a business operator as the perpetrator. However, there is (1) a disparity in the quality and quantity of information and negotiating power between consumers and business operators, (2) filing a lawsuit generally requires time, expense, and efforts which are not commensurate with redress for minor damage, and (3) resolving an individual problem does not mean preventing the same type of problems for many and unspecified consumers, for these reasons, it is authorized by law qualified entities to launch a judicial or extrajudicial action.
Specifically, a "Qualified Consumer Organization" certified by the Prime Minister can seek an injunction to protect the interests of many and unspecified consumers (injunction demand) and a "Specified Qualified Consumer Organization" certified by the Prime Minister among Qualified Consumer Organizations can conduct court proceedings for the collective redress for financial detriment on behalf of consumers against a business operator (redress for damage).
Whistleblower Protection System
In quite a number of instances, a case of corporate misconduct that compromises consumer safety and interests comes into the open by a report from someone working for them.
The whistleblower protection system is a means to protect whistleblowers so that they should not be subjected to dismissal, demotion or other disadvantageous treatment on the grounds that they report the case and also set forth things like what measures should be taken by businesses in relation to whistleblowing, which aims that laws and regulations associated with consumer safety and interests should be adhered to.
The Consumer Affairs Agency has developed and released to the public a handbook that describes the system and guidelines and other information that can be helpful for businesses and administrative organs to establish and administer a pertinent structure.
The CAA has also set up the "Whistleblower Protection System Consultation Dial" as a point of contact for consultation about the system and has also made various materials available on its Whistleblower Protection System Webpage.
Whistleblower Protection System Consultation Dial(Available in Japanese only)
Phone: +81-3-3507-9262 (from 9:30 to12:30 and from 13:30 to17:30 on weekdays)