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Japan: Fertilizer Regulation Act Amended

(Dec. 30, 2019) The Diet (Japan’s parliament) has enacted the Act to Amend the Fertilizer Regulation Act. The Act was published in the Official Gazette on December 4, 2019 (Act No. 62 of 2019 (Reiwa 1)) and will come into effect within one year, with some exceptions (Supp. Provisions art. 1).

The Fertilizer Regulation Act aims to increase agricultural productivity and protect people’s health by maintaining fertilizer quality, as well as ensure fair trade and the safe application of fertilizers through the establishment of standards and a registration and inspection system, among other things. (Fertilizer Regulation Act art. 1.) The amendment will introduce a system to enhance government supervision over the raw materials used in fertilizers. In accordance with the new Act,

  • the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) will set additional standards for the minimum or maximum quantities of the main elements and raw materials comprising fertilizers, as well as the maximum quantity of harmful elements from plants that can be used in them (Act to Amend the Fertilizer Regulation Act art. 3);
  • producers and importers of fertilizers will be obliged to include the raw materials used in their fertilizers in the records that the Act requires be kept (art. 27); and
  • producers and importers of fertilizers will be prohibited from making false advertisements regarding the raw materials used in fertilizers and the methods of fertilizer production (art. 26).

The amendment also replaces the registration requirement for producing fertilizers with the requirement that fertilizer producers report production in advance to the MAFF or prefecture governors when the producers

  • mix chemical fertilizers and composts,
  • mix fertilizers and soil conditioners, and
  • process fertilizers without creating chemical reactions, such as pelletization. (Arts. 4 & 16-2.)

Further, under the amended Act, the MAFF will be able to add mandatory descriptions of the quality and effect of fertilizers, such as delayed release, in the labeling of fertilizers. (Arts. 21 & 22-2.) Enforcement measures for such labeling were also added. (Art. 22-3.)

Background

The MAFF found that the soil quality of the country’s rice fields has worsened because of a decrease in the use of composts. It also found that the use of fertilizers containing mainly a few similar elements has resulted in an imbalance of soil elements. Accordingly, the MAFF is trying to facilitate the use of composts and of residual products, such as food wastes, for composts. At the same time, quality control measures are required to ensure the safety and reliability of such fertilizers. In addition, the MAFF has removed out-of-date and unnecessary regulations, such as the regulation requiring that only standard fertilizers be mixed in fertilizer production.

The MAFF also found that, to ensure a stable supply of fertilizers, it is important that materials generated inside Japan be used to produce fertilizers rather than relying on imports. Further, by utilizing residual products, the society can reduce wastes and benefit the environment.