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Japan to Adjust List of Chemical Substances Subject to Its PRTR System

The Japanese METI plans to adjust the criteria of substance selection as well as the substances list under its PRTR system.

During the 5th Chemical Substance Management Meeting held in Yokohama, Japan, Mr. Tokumasu Shinnji from the Chemical Substance Management Division of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) delivered a keynote speech to brief the audience on updates in Japan’s chemical regulations and policies, including their plan to revise the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) law.

The PRTR system came into effect in 2000, designating a certain number (currently 462) Class 1 substances and requiring businesses estimate and report the release and transfer of such substances on a regular basis. Since this law is devised majorly to regulate domestic enterprises in Japan, overseas businesses are less concerned about its rules than about the Chemical Substance Control Law (CSCL) and the Industrial Safety and Health Law (ISHL).

However, it should be noted that, besides the CSCL and the ISHL, the PRTR system is also a pillar underpinning the country’s GHS framework: businesses dealing with the 462 substances as well as 100 Class 2 Designated Chemical Substances need to comply with SDS-related requirements.

According to Mr. Tokumasu, the PRTR law was revised once in 2008. Entailing virtually no substantive change in the overall framework, the 2008 revision solely increased the number of Class 1 substances and Class 2 substances from 354 to 462 and from 81 to 100.

This round of revision, which is currently under way, will focus on the criteria of substance selection [1]. For example, chemical substances with certain ecotoxicity as well as persistence and bioaccumulation may be designated as Class 1 substances. Meanwhile, the release volume, instead of the manufacture/import volume, may be taken as the criterion when determining a substance’s exposure. It is expected that the METI will start working on selecting substances together with the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) after this November.

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