Japan Reverses Ban On Second-Hand Electronics

from the property-rights-saved dept

Good news for anyone in Japan that owns consumer electronics, the government has decided to reverse a ban on selling such goods used. Although ostensibly put in place because older products don’t adhere to new safety regulations, the ban clearly seemed like a subsidy to electronics makers, upset that anyone else might profit from their products. Not only would this have been a disturbing expansion of the “no right to resale” principle, usually applicable just to digital goods (like an iTunes track), it would have been bad for the electronics makers as well. Such a ban would have made consumers less likely to buy new goods, as it would raise the implicit cost of the product — imagine how poorly the car market would function if you couldn’t trade your old one in. There’s clearly a lot of value in old consumer electronics and Japan is wise not to have killed this market. Update: A commenter has correctly pointed out that Japan hasn’t technically reversed the ban, but has merely indicated that used electronics could still be rented out under the existing law. Rent, however, will probably be defined loosely, so that the transaction will resemble a sale. Either way, the announcement betrays the idea that the law is somehow about safety, as the products can still get to consumers.

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Comments on “Japan Reverses Ban On Second-Hand Electronics”

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dorpus says:

Subsidy to many other industries

Japanese electronics makers put on saturated marketing campaigns, making sure absolutely everyone knows that they have to buy this year’s “ion filter”, “oxygen flow”, “alpha wave sensing”, or whatever else. Japanese just as quickly throw them away, since there is no space to store them in tiny Japanese houses, and people who keep last year’s electronics are laughed at. Thus, there is a booming business in re-selling this stuff to poorer countries in the region, and the junkyard industry makes handsome profits also. Japanese cities have 5 different kinds of trash bins, and strangers will get hysterical when you throw paper or soda cans in the wrong type of bin, and will lecture you about how Japan will be buried under the sea because you put paper in the wrong bin; but they are strangely silent on tossing huge, bulky electronic items.

g-man (profile) says:

damned right wingers

right wingers are for capitalism.

which means, if you can sell it, best of luck to you.

such as the pet rock (which is my favorite example of capitalism at work, and that nothing is a stupid idea before it’s tried)

I’m very pro-capitalism. and right wingers make better businessmen. they want the goverment OUT of business. de-regulated, etc. they like competition.

competition is generally a healthy thing.

without the goverment it’s capitalistic darwinism.

marvelous stuff. everything from private supersonic jets to beanie babies.

(just ignore all the polluton stuff) 😉

usually ban’s are a poor tactic. creating another black market niche. it also tends to piss off the citizens.

(taking away their rights usually)

it just ain’t the goverments job. (at least here in america) but that’s why I lean towards constitutionalism.

but, I have little idea of japan’s goverment, so maybe it’s fine to do such a thing there.

and then maybe their people will travel to singapore to get their second hand goods. 🙂

(and capitalism wins again!)

fukumimi (user link) says:

Let's get the facts straight, please.

Why oh why can’t people report the facts correctly? (Both MSM and the blogosphere are equally guilty as far as this issue is concerned)

(There are a bunch of people who have a vested interest in sensationalising the story, no doubt.)

The law stated that mains powered electronics products which did not exhibit a “PSE” mark could not be sold after April 1st. Most electronics products manufactured after 2001 have this mark. The uproar was regarding such electronics produced before this date, which could not be sold “as is” after April 1st.

The anti-PSE movement gained traction once notable musicians (such as Ryuichi Sakamoto of YMO fame) started to jump on the bandwagon when they realised their vintage synths and other equipment might be affected.

Sensationalism aside, the law provides for a way for second hand electronic goods retailers to apply for the right to test equipment and certify goods as being PSE compliant. (Certain electronics do require to be tested by an approved institution, these include devices whose use carries a high risk of electrocution where a fault occurs – these are goods used near/in water (water heaters, etc), and directly on the body (eg massage machines))

The paperwork for such an application is a formality, and the required tests are straightforward and require very basic electronics skills, and the required test equipment is minimal (budget:$1000-$2000). The test results need to be stored for a minimum of 3 years from sale. Liability insurance is also required.

Yet a bunch of secondhand stores are up in arms, claiming that they will not be able to sell any electronics goods. Which is patently false.

Other more enterprising stores have done the paperwork and are already selling self-tested PSE compliant secondhand goods.

In a balance between financial burden for the seller and consumer protection, who should have priority?

Trade sellers should be competent enough to test, support, and be responsible for (as far as it would be equitable to do so) the goods they sell to consumers.

To promote more re-use of still functioning appliances (which is a good thing from a resource conservation perspective), certain safeguards need to be in place to prevent unscrupulous traders from ripping-off the consumer, as such acts will make consumers less willing to conduct purchases on the second hand market. With good such as electronics (as is the case for cars), requiring the consumer to take all of the risks does not seem equitable.

The PSE law as it stood appears to have struck a fairly even balance. Unfortunately, and is often the case, the bureaucrats (and their politician puppetmasters) buckled under the weight of public opinion and basically stated that the PSE law will not be enforced.

There are issues regarding the way the PSE law requirements were communicated effectively (or not) to those affected with reasonable notice. Perhaps a delay in enforcing the law was merited based on the apparent miscommunication. However, not enforcing the law seems to be a total cop-out.

I cannot excuse those who have their own agenda to whip up emotional support for their (selfish) position by deliberately misinterpreting the law. These manipulative people are just looking out for themselves and do not see the big picture.

Daniel smith says:


This is daniel i will like to buy some electromices in your store which are 5 DVD plyer in your store but this is my fist time in this site i will like you to put me through how i am going to pay you now and how long will it take to get to the destination i am sending it to (Nigeria) if for my wife who owns has a store in the country.All this i i will like you to explaine to me. as soon as possible so the payment can be made.bu i will like to pay with credit card .will .
i will be waiting for you reply

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