Matrixsynth and Music thing have continued their coverage of Japan’s hated new PSE law, set to go in effect April 1, which would ban sales and purchase of used equipment that fails strict electrical certification — read, all that vintage game and music gear you love so much. Trying to follow this story is more than a little tricky, between changing information from Japanese bureaucrats and translation issues. Thankfully, Jun and Aaron have been trying to help us out over in Music thing’s comments, including this lovely haiku from Aaron:

Electronics spring,
New law restricts used good sales,
Kirn’s question answered?

In short, the reason none of us knows what’s going on is no one in Japan, the lawmakers included, seem to know what’s going on. First, Japanese lawmakers passed a law which must have seemed sensible to them, tightening restrictions on purchasing and selling electrical devices based on certification — thinking nothing of how this law would affect Japan’s sizable number of used electronics resellers. Protests from customers and sellers alike pressured the government to create an exemption for certified vintage gear. Great, we’re done! Nope: apparently that new certification (certifying that the gear doesn’t need the other certification) doesn’t cover the very gear it was supposed to protect, because it wasn’t certified via the older certification. And as for the free testing equipment and testing procedures . . . oh, I don’t know.

In the meantime, let’s just enjoy the photos of the mass protest in Tokyo (courtesy Asobitsuchiya) that featured people marching with vintage recorders and synths (really), and even playing Nintendo Famicom (that’s NES to the rest of us) in the streets. Now that would have made protest marches I’ve been in so much more fun. (But, yipes, you won’t even be able to buy old Famicoms?)

Anyone in Japan want to set us straight on what’s going on?

  • funnelbc

    I was listening to 4 Colour Rebellion's latest podcast and some of the podcasters live in japan.

    The crux of the thing was that it required older equipment to be certified to allow it to be sold. And therefore smaller outlets would be less likely to stock send hand goods as the effort and cost to certify the goods would be more trouble than it's worth.

    However the other bit of inside knowledge which was imparted was that often laws are enacted and then nothing is done about them, so maybe it won't affect things as much as folks have made it out to be.

    From a safety standpoint, I wonder how much if any elderly video games/vintage synth gear has caught fire as opposed to current generation gear – for example powerbook powerpacks, xbox powerpacks etc etc?

  • funnelbc

    For extra special bonus points I'd love to have a translation of the kanji in the bottom left hand corner of the picture? We love ???

  • velocipede

    I think the short answer is that nobody, not even the law-makers, know what the full implications of this law are yet. As of today, the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party, is considering proposing postponement and reform of the law. Some mainstream newspapers and magazines have blasted it. They seem to be more concerned about the mom-and-pop recycle shops than musical gear. This story is still developing. I will keep an eye out in the Japanese media and try to report any major news.

    By the way, those kanji mean "used," which is an interesting word in Japanese. The first character means "middle" and the second means "old."

    Marching through law's fog
    Cries of Roland, Casio
    Middle-old, no crime?


  • velocipede

    According to this Japan Times article:

    "After meeting with a group of about 30 secondhand goods dealers, Hidetaka Fukuda, head of METI's consumer policy affairs division, said the government will allow the dealers to sell electrical items, including musical instruments, without the PSE sticker if they conduct safety inspections of the products at some time in the future.

    "In reality, there is a serious shortage of equipment necessary for safety tests. We need to find a solution so as not to cause great economic losses among used goods dealers who have a considerable amount of inventory," Fukuda said.

    Koichiro Ogawa, who heads the dealer group, welcomed the government's decision, saying it is "tantamount to delaying the start of the sales ban."

    and . . .

    "But transactions between individuals, rentals and selling such items overseas is allowed. Businesses that sell electrical items without the PSE stickers face up to 100 million yen in fines.

    Fukuda indicated the government will not punish dealers trading goods without PSE certification, even after April 1, treating such transactions as "leasing."

    And . .

    "Following an uproar among the dealers and musicians, METI announced last week it will exempt from the restrictions such vintage items as synthesizers, stereos, vacuum tube amplifiers, movie projectors and photograph enlargement machines. Specifics on the exemptions have not been determined yet."