Now, it turns out that there were some 879 cases of mislabeled food products last year but MAFF only disclosed 110 of them "in order to protect the companies responsible" according to Kyodo.
A ministry official said it decided not to announce all of the cases because it might deliver "a big social blow" to firms that got caught up in mislabeling through simple negligence or temporary law-infringement cases. It therefore decided only to announce cases it considered "malicious" or requiring orders to take corrective measures.
The remarks highlight the ministry's admitted stance of placing more importance on corporate interests rather than those of consumers.
Kyodo/ The Japan Times: Ministry hid 90% of food-mislabeling cases
These cases involve a lot of marine products that are often mislabelled in other countries as well, but why was MAFF trying to hide it? Don't they know that consumers like being treated with respect, and that providing all the data is the best way to avoid breeding mistrust? Consumers are actually intelligent enough to handle correct information...?
Recalls of items like kerosene heaters are also in the news. This shows that Japan will need a much better consumer safety policy, with proper disclosure. Regular readers of Kurashi know that I like Japan's whistle-blower protection rules.
Japan: Whistleblower Protection Act 2004
There will be plenty of work cut out for the new Consumer Agency.
Asahi: Faulty goods causing accidents, even after recalls
Under the revised Consumer Products Safety Law that took effect in May 2007, manufacturers or importers are required to report serious accidents to the ministry. According to the ministry, the largest number of cases, 84, involved oil water heaters and bath boilers. In many cases, fires started after kerosene had leaked, due to aging rubber parts that had hardened. The second-highest number of cases, 77, involved electric cooking stoves. Switches were inadvertently turned on, burning flammable items on or near the stoves. There were 24 accidents involving microwave ovens, 15 cases with electric heaters and 12 with air conditioners. Eleven serious accidents were caused by gas bath boilers and 10 others by washing machines or washer-dryers.
According to the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE), an independent administrative entity that collects accident and recall information, there have been about 1,100 recall cases involving home-use products since 1989.
The biggest killer of them all, of course, is the automobile, with over 10,000 deaths each year here in Japan.