2010 March 06 Saturday
Consumer Protection In Japan Very Weak

The New York Times reports that Toyota has done no recalls in Japan for car unexpected acceleration problems.

Toyota has recalled eight million cars outside Japan because of unexpected acceleration and other problems, but has insisted that there are no systemic problems with its cars sold in Japan. The company recalled the Prius for a brake problem earlier this year.

Critics say many companies benefit from Japanís weak consumer protections. (The country has only one full-time automobile recall investigator, supported by 15 others on limited contracts.)

One lady in the article came under pressure by police to sign a document stating that her car accident was caused by her mistakenly stepping on the gas pedal. She claims she didn't make that mistake.

Japan's equivalent of Ralph Nader was convicted of blackmail for his efforts to force Japanese car companies to fix their safety defects.

The most active was the Japan Automobile Consumers Union, led by Fumio Matsuda, a former Nissan engineer often referred to as the Ralph Nader of Japan. But the automakers fought back with a campaign discrediting the activists as dangerous agitators. Mr. Matsuda and his lawyer were soon arrested and charged with blackmail. They fought the charges to Japanís highest court, but lost.

The willingness of Japanese to conform has costs as well as benefits. One of the costs is weak consumer protection. The Japanese government is just now taking some steps toward more monitoring and investigation of Japanese car companies. This comes 40+ years after the US government got serious about car design defect problems. Ralph Nader didn't have to become a convicted felon in order to spark that change.

Update: Other things about Japanese society are, um, unusual in Western experience.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 March 06 11:07 AM  Culture Compared

Ryan said at March 6, 2010 2:48 PM:

I would agree that Western style legalistic consumer protection is weak compared to the West. Though the Japanese use other means embedded in their culture, like their honor and shame codes, to manage consumer and social protection.

As for that Kotaku Japanese rant, that's a familiar one in the quite large genre of Western expats in E. Asia bitching about E. Asian countries/culture. Often it involves SWPL types complaining about why these E. Asians aren't exactly like/behaving like SWPLs and why they're countries aren't like Portland Oregon or something. Notice the Kotaku rant guy complaining about the smoking and meat in the food.

Scott Thomas said at March 7, 2010 11:35 AM:

All Car Companies should have came forward with a full disclosures of what car were dangerous. Instead of waiting for a huge media blitz and tons of public pressure. I never seen so many car companies GM - NISSAN - TOYOTA - HYUNDAI having recalls all at the same time. I had no idea my car was affected until I looked on http://www.carpedalrecall.com and found I had a bad Anti Lock control unit on my 2008 Pontiac G8 , my co workers Ford Truck had a recall also. So be careful

Death to Them All said at March 7, 2010 8:19 PM:

Lack of legal consumer protection is one of the biggest problems Japan has? Lucky them...As for that jerk-off whining about Tokyo, I hope he gets his head removed by someone in the JDF and his body shipped back home COD. What an asshole. If he was dead, both Japan and the US would benefit.

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