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[April 2022]

Message from the President

Welcome to the website of the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC).

Message from the President YAMADA Akinori

NCAC has addressed consumer issues for over 50 years since its establishment in 1970 ( Refer to the 50th anniversary commemorative publication – NCAC history since 1970 (Japanese version)). The consumer affairs administration took a major step forward after the establishment of the Consumer Protection Fundamental Act in 1968. The act was revised to the Basic Act on Consumer Policies in 2004. The Consumer Affairs Agency was founded in 2009. Consumer affairs centers were established across Japan and consumer affairs consultants were increased, which enhanced administrative services for consumers at regional level. As a core institution working on consumer issues in everyday life, NCAC has addressed changing consumer issues in order to contribute to the stabilization and improvement of the lives of the people.

NCAC works on a wide range of tasks. The most essential function is to help prevent potential consumer problems and support resolution of existing consumer problems related to transactions of products and services. In recent years, consumer affairs centers and the like across Japan receive around 900,000 inquiries and complaints per year from consumers who have encountered trouble. It is said that consumer issues reflect society. As consumption behavior changes, consumer problems change. Recently, there have been numerous consumer problems stemmed from online transactions such as those related to subscription and those related to information products for side jobs or investment triggered by social media. As a new normal has been introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, problems related to online shopping have increased in all age groups. NCAC is enhancing the support for resolving consumer problems in response to advancing digital network society. It is necessary to promote IT adoption to increase capacity for consumer affairs consultation. NCAC is developing a plan for further IT adoption, seeking the optimal way of consumer affairs consultation.

In April 2022, the age of adulthood was lowered from 20 to 18, which has brought a big change in the legal environment for consumers in Japan. NCAC has put emphasis on offering relevant information to young people, in particular those aged 18 or 19 (e.g. caution against problems related to moneymaking schemes, beauty care, etc.) to prevent them from getting in trouble. Moreover, for many years NCAC has provided input for supporting the elderly and ensuring safety for children. It is ever more important for NCAC to support consumer affairs centers across Japan, to inform and request to the government, and to issue consumer alerts based on accurate and helpful information. NCAC would like to share relevant information such as trends of consumer affairs consultation and product test results not only through mass media but also through the Internet including social media in order to prevent consumers from suffering damage.

As Japan has experienced numerous natural disasters such as heavy rains in July-August 2001 and the Fukushima earthquake in March 2022, there have been hard-sell tactics capitalizing on natural disasters (e.g. pressing consumers to order expensive and/or unnecessary construction work). There have been also COVID-19 related problems. Some businesses have sold questionable antivirus products capitalizing on anxiety about the novel coronavirus. Some fraudsters have tricked consumers out of money or personal information capitalizing on vaccination opportunities. NCAC has shared results of testing some questionable products and has established a special hotline for consumers in urgent need.

NCAC will continue to make efforts to prevent and minimize consumer detriment in cooperation with consumers, businesses and administrative authorities. Thank you for your support and cooperation.

Photo of Mr. YAMADA, President