Monthly Archives: May 2022

Japan Resources – 185

Please click here for our latest English newsletter: JR 185

From the Editors: Growing Movement

Exposing Fragrance Pollution in Japan

Violating Consumers’ Right to Know and Choose

Essay: Unexpectedly…

From the Editors: Growing Movement

Welcome to issue No. 185 of Consumers Union of Japan’s English newsletter. The theme of this issue is “Exposing Fragrance Pollution in Japan” where we discuss the problem and the growing movement trying to deal with it. CUJ and other organisations have been acting as a principal driver of the movement for the last several years.

We also have an update on the Japanese government’s assault on consumers’ right to know and choose, as it moves to make certain popular, and useful, food labels illegal, including GMO-free labels.

We hope you will stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, as well as on our English Twitter account:

Exposing Fragrance Pollution in Japan

By Yuri Kitagawa

A large number of people in Japan suffer from fragrance pollution. The main culprits include laundry products, especially scented fabric softeners, but also fabric refreshers, air fresheners, and antiperspirants.

The number of those affected is thought to be a few million and possibly as many as 10 million. Symptoms are headaches, nausea, diarrhea, asthma, dizziness, eye-ache and worse. Some people reach points where they are unable to go to school or work and in extreme cases, they are forced to escape to uninhabited areas and live deep in the mountains.

In 2017, Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ) and its Soap/Detergent Group set up a Fragrance Pollution Helpline, which led to the creation of the Network to Stop Fragrance Pollution with six other citizen’s organisations, and together the Network has engaged in numerous activities.

Even if one is not a user of scented products, fragrance pollution is impossible to escape as polluted air reaches inside homes from laundry being dried in neighbours’ gardens and on balconies, or from exhaust vents connected to clothes dryers. Also, cold water is commonly used in washing machines which can be the cause of leaving more garment softener chemicals attached to the clothes’ fabric. Since the whole atmosphere, especially inside buildings, is polluted, going out means coming back drenched in fragrances and other chemicals.

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Violating Consumers’ Right to Know and Choose

By Michiyo Koketsu, Co-Chairperson, Consumers Union of Japan

In Japan, the food labeling system has been undergoing continuous deterioration over the past several years. How is it that the government has gone from leaving consumers scratching their heads over unclear labels, to violating our right to know and choose? It all started in 2015, when the food labeling system, which previously fell under a number of jurisdictions, was consolidated into the Food Labeling Law and placed under the Consumer Affairs Agency. They promptly established study groups to discuss the labeling of the origin of ingredients in processed foods, the labeling of food additives, and the labeling of genetically modified foods, but neither took into account the demands proposed by Consumers Union of Japan (CUJ). The Consumer Affairs Agency has ignored our calls for a better labeling system for consumers while making the labeling system convenient for corporations.

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