STC Number - 56

Notification on amendment of the Japanese Plant Protection Law

Maintained by: Japan
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: Australia; Canada; Chile; European Union; New Zealand; Philippines; Uruguay
First date raised: November 1998 G/SPS/R/13 paras. 31-34
Dates subsequently raised: November 1999 (G/SPS/R/17 para. 82)
July 2001 (G/SPS/R/22 para. 127)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/100 G/SPS/N/JPN/37 G/SPS/GEN/265
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: International Standards / Harmonization; Plant health
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In November 1998, the representative of the United States noted that the Japanese draft regulation proposed the addition of 27 pests to the list of non-quarantine pests in Japan's Plant Protection Law (G/SPS/GEN/100 refers). These additional pests, when intercepted on commodities arriving in Japan, would no longer be subject to quarantine measures. Although encouraged by certain aspects of Japan's proposal, the United States continued to have concerns regarding the basis and application of Japan's phytosanitary legislation. In particular, Japan's legislative amendments did not appear to alter the current practice of requiring fumigation and other costly treatments for most non-quarantine pests, including those pests which were widespread in Japan and not subject to internal regulatory or quarantine controls. Japan's quarantine actions regarding non-quarantine pests, in many instances, unjustifiably discriminated against foreign imports. The United States urged Japan to re-evaluate its basis for defining and taking action on quarantine pests in accordance with the IPPC definition of a "quarantine pest" and the principle of "non-discrimination" ("... In the case of a quarantine pest within a country, measures shall be applied without discrimination between domestic and imported consignments.").

The representative of the European Communities noted that according to Article 5.2 of the Japanese law all pests not included in the relevant list were considered as quarantine pests. The failure to include in the list non-harmful pests which also occurred generally in Japan would lead to the regular rejection of imports or their submission to lengthy procedures at considerable expense. This seemed to be in breach of Article 2.3 of the SPS Agreement. Furthermore, Japan established an exceptional list of pests, rather than a list of quarantine pests with identified risks. This approach did not seem to be in conformity with Articles 2.1 and 2.2 of the SPS Agreement. Japan had indicated that international standards on which to base the relevant evaluation did not exist, and yet it maintained that the proposal had been developed according to the IPPC guidelines for pest risk analysis. Japan's risk assessment, apparently in conformity with Article 5.1 of the SPS Agreement, had resulted in the listing of pests which were not considered as quarantine pests. This did not, however, address requests from WTO Members for consideration of specified pests. The EC representative requested that, in accordance with Article 5.8 of the SPS Agreement, Japan provide the scientific rationale behind the measure and the documents concerning its risk analysis.

The representative of Uruguay recalled that according to the revised IPPC, phytosanitary requirements could only be applied to regulated pests. These included two categories: quarantine pests, including pests normally non-existent in a country, and a new category of regulated nonquarantine pests, specified as those which, if not regulated, would have a high impact on the proposed use of the contaminated material. The IPPC required the application of the principle of nondiscrimination regarding this type of pest. The representative of Australia supported the United States' and Uruguayan statements and endorsed the positive aspects of the Japanese draft measure. However, Australia was concerned that the current legal and administrative arrangements to expand the list of pests were too inflexible. There needed to be an appropriate mechanism which enabled the non-quarantine pest list to be updated regularly, as was the case in other countries, including Australia. He encouraged the Japanese authorities to use internationally accepted pest risk analysis to identify further non-quarantine pests and to examine the current list in a publicly available forum. The representatives of the Philippines, on behalf of Asean countries, Chile, New Zealand and Canada supported the concerns raised above.

The representative of Japan indicated that the 27 non-quarantine pests added to the list were widely distributed in Japan and were not officially controlled. They were not quarantine pests according to the definition in the IPPC guideline on pest risk analysis. Japan had received requests from a number of Members for the addition of more pests to the list. However, these were quarantine pests subject to official control programmes, such as the plant pest forecasting programme. In light of the official control performed in Japan, his authorities believed they complied with the definition of quarantine pests in IPPC. In case the pest control by individual farmers was not properly performed, the central government would give instructions to prefectural governments to establish a control plan. Since Japan took the necessary measures against quarantine pests on domestic agricultural products as well as on imported products, his authorities did not think there was unjustifiable discrimination between domestic products and imported ones. The list of non-quarantine pests would be reviewed in the future with a view to expansion. His authorities welcomed the continuation of bilateral consultations to deepen mutual understanding of this matter.

In November 1999, with regard to Japan's notification G/SPS/N/JPN/37, the representative of the European Communities recalled that at the previous Committee meeting his delegation had requested to be informed of the scientific rational for a quarantine list for plant protection purposes, but had not received a response from Japan. The representative of Japan announced that his authorities would continue discussions of the matter raised by the European Communities on a bilateral basis.

In July 2001, the representative of the United States introduced an update to the Secretariat document on specific trade concerns (G/SPS/GEN/204/Rev.1). The United States had examined the issues it had raised in the Committee to determine whether the issues had been resolved. This exercise had shown that the SPS Committee was a useful forum to address and resolve trade issues. The US document presented the US view on the status of the relevant issues, and the United States was prepared to discuss other Members' views on this status.