Japanese officials are feeling the pressure to abolish the country's notification system for importers of cosmetics and quasi-drugs, as European brands push for a comprehensive agreement on animal testing to be tied into a free trade agreement between the EU and Japan.
Just last year, Cruelty Free International presented a petition with over a million signatures to the Japanese health minister, calling for the country's law makers to make changes.
According to the organisation, Japan is experiencing this heat as it is one of the few countries worldwide that still allows animals testing on cosmetics.
In 2013, the EU announced it was bringing an end to cosmetics animal testing, declaring that no product can be tested on animals on the continent while also banning imports tested on animals or that contain ingredients that have been tested in that way.
Cosmetics brands are making changes...
Major cosmetics players in Asia like Shiseido have already made efforts to follow Europe’s lead, although it still makes an exception for exports to China whose officials insist that final products be tested on animals.
Other international beauty brands like The Body Shop and Lush Japan have never conducted animal testing with their cosmetics.
It's a case of watch this space for now, 2016 may ring in significant change. In the meantime, 'cruelty free' campaigners will continue to hold symposiums and lobby companies until Japan can handle the heat no more..
Harmonisation of the EU and Japanese legislation
Japan is a mature market that has experienced deep modifications at every level, such as social mutations, prices and market structure to name a few.
Only by conducting thorough market knowledge, working closely with a local partner and having a clear strategy that combines identity, quality and innovation will European cosmetic companies have the leverage to succeed.
According to Erwan Rannou at the Minerva EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Co-operation, companies should try to benefit from help and support (export credit and services), from both Japanese and EU organisations to avoid common mistakes and experimental market entry.
Rannou tells CosmeticsDesign-Asia.com that due to information gaps and asymmetries, smaller enterprises from Europe for example, are unaware of the export credit products and services available.
"Harmonisation of the EU and Japanese legislation regarding the importation process of cosmetics and especially regarding the quasi-drugs system is vital as it represents a major barrier for many SMEs," he tells this publication.