Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare


1.  Introduction
  The purpose of the administrative work concerning food safety is to protect the health of the public through the strengthening measures for the assurance of food safety.
  The work is carried out under the Food Safety Basic Law (enacted in May 2003) and related laws including the Food Sanitation Law, the Abattoir Law, and the Poultry Slaughtering Business Control and Poultry Inspection Law.  In addition, other related laws are necessary, including the Law of Temporary Measures for Enhancing the Control Method of the Food Production Process and the Health Promotion Law. The work includes various responsibilities. These include the regulation of the manufacture, import, and sale of food, food additives, and food apparatus and containers/packages. They also include the provision of related information to consumers and businesses.

2.  Structure and responsibilities of the Department of Food Safety
  The administration of food safety is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Food Safety under the Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau. The structure and its main responsibilities are given below. For relationship between national and local governments(Diagram 1(PDF:43KB)).

Department of Food Safety, Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau
 -   Policy Planning and Communication Division (General coordination of responsibilities under the jurisdiction of the Department of Food Safety, risk communication)
   Office of International Food Safety (General coordination of international affairs under the jurisdiction of the Department)
   Office of Port Health Administration (Quarantine business, inspection of imported food)
 -   Standards and Evaluation Division (Establishment of specifications/standards for food, food additives, pesticide residues, animal drug residues, food containers, and food labeling)
   Office of Health Policy on Newly Developed Food (Labeling of specified uses, nutrition labeling standards, foods with health claims, dietary supplements, safety assessment of genetically modified foods)
 -   Inspection and Safety Division (Food inspection, health risk management such as measures for food poisoning, safety measures for poultry and livestock meat, dissemination and promotion of the HACCP approach, GLP, measures for environmental contaminants, sanitary control of rendering plants)
   Office of Import Food Safety (Assurance of import food safety)

3.  Outline of the administration of food safety
  The food safety administrative work is based on the Food Safety Basic Law (enacted in May 2003), the Food Sanitation Law, the Abattoir Law, the Poultry Slaughtering Business Control and Poultry Inspection Law, and other related laws.
  There has been a growing concern and distrust of food safety among the Japanese public, triggered by various problems involving the occurrence of BSE in 2001. Under such circumstances Japan has enacted the Food Safety Basic Law, a comprehensive law to ensure food safety for the purpose of protecting the health of the public, as well as has developed related laws. In the wake of the development of these laws, Japan has introduced a risk analysis approach to food safety work.
  The approach is to scientifically assess risks (expressed as the probability and degree of adverse health effects) and develop necessary measures based on the risk assessment. The risk analysis consists of three components: risk assessment-assess risk scientifically; risk management-implement necessary measures based on risk assessment; and risk communication-exchange information and opinions among related people representing the people including public, government, and academia.  The Food Safety Basic Law is responsible for the risk assessment, and the Food Sanitation Law and other related laws are responsible for the risk management. The risk assessment is in practice conducted by the Food Safety Commission established under the Food Safety Basic Law (Diagram 2(PDF:96KB)).
  The Food Sanitation Law covers various responsibilities. They include the establishment of standards/specifications for food, additives, apparatus, and food containers/packages; inspection to see whether these established standards are met; the hygiene management of the manufacture and sale of food; and business license. (Diagram 3(PDF:112KB))  The Abattoir Law and the Poultry Slaughtering Business Control and Poultry Inspection Law cover the regulation of livestock meat and fowl meat including inspection systems for meat.  In addition, the publication of relevant information and international cooperation in study and research are an important part of the food safety work.
  To achieve those responsibilities, local governments play an important role, as well. The local governments conduct inspection of and give advice to food-related businesses. They grant a license to businesses that operate within the jurisdiction concerned, and suspend licensed businesses and/or revoke operation if they violate the law. They also conduct food testing. These activities are executed through health centers under the jurisdiction concerned.
Imported foods are inspected by 31 quarantine stations placed across Japan under the central government.