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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    dorpus, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Steve, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 1:19pm

    Err, not so fast.

    As I point out on my blog, they are NOT lifting the ban. They are just reminding people that they can still 'rent' items after the deadline. You will still not be allowed to SELL those items. :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 1:29pm

    I bet sony was a major player in getting that law into effect from the start. Don't even have to look that one up, lol

    A dire day for Sony indeed....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    discojohnson, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Err, not so fast.

    Or not read the blog. FTA, "'We're just pointing out there are ways to do business even after the law comes into effect,' Kakui said." Kakui, a Trade Ministry official, said that it's OK to cheat a little.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 4:03pm

    Well, it's about time those damn Japs pulled their heads out of their asses!

    This ranks right up there with their decision to attack Pearl Harbor...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Boris Jacobsen, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    Oh my.....

    I didn't know about said ban but it's a horrific precedent for ULTRA-capitalism. Imagine if NOTHING could be sold on to a second user. I bet, as I type this, some right-wing a**hole somewhere is trying to further such a scheme....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    g-man, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 7:42pm

    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!)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    C-Dave, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 9:13pm

    Re: damned right wingers

    Rightwing or Leftwing is just a myth...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    fukumimi, Mar 27th, 2006 @ 10:11pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Zero, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 6:54am


    Ugh.... Japanese peoples!!! LOL My Blog

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Zero, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 6:55am


    Ugh.... Japanese peoples!!! LOL My Blog

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Matt, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 8:35am

    blog blog blog

    why is everyone always trying to pimp their blogs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Technical Webmaster, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 11:35am

    Exclusive Japanese

    Hey Guys! Wake up! Just go to Japan and try to get in some of their exclusive eateries. No way, Jose. If you're not Nipponese they won't let you in even if you get down on your knees. So, why would you expect them NOT to come up with ideas like excluding resales of your own property?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2006 @ 2:57pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Sashko, Sep 27th, 2006 @ 2:40am

    second hand

    I am looking forward to find some second hand
    Electronics market
    Could you help me find
    you can contact me by my e-mail address

    best regards

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Daniel smith, Apr 7th, 2007 @ 9:23am


    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Joshua, Jun 25th, 2007 @ 1:22pm

    Re: second hand

    Hi, please let me know if you have second hand laptops, the specs and pricing in US Dollars etc etc
    Thank you, Josh

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Joshua, Jun 25th, 2007 @ 1:23pm

    Re: second hand

    Hi, please let me know if you have second hand laptops, the specs and pricing in US Dollars etc etc
    Thank you, Josh

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.