Resolution Aiming at Realizing a Society Where All Consumers may Live Reassured and Safely in the Super Aging Society
October 15, 2021
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
The consumer damage of elderly persons has become a serious problem in the progression of an aging society in Japan.
It is presumed that the causes of this problem are vulnerabilities of elderly persons who are facing health concerns, financial concerns, or impairment in decision-making, along with the existence of dishonest business operators who are taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of the elderly persons. The damage to elderly consumers is expected to increase continuously as the aging population grows.
Not to mention a gap in information and negotiation skills between business operators and consumers, actual damage to consumers stems from various factors. There are both continuing factors such as lack of knowledge, experience, or decision-making capacity among the elderly persons, disabled persons and young individuals; and temporary factors such as increasing complexity of products and services in the development of information technology, nature of agreements, types of promotions, and relationships with salespersons.
Already having the continuing vulnerability factors, elderly persons, disabled persons, and young individuals will be exposed to higher risks of greater damages than other consumers, when facing the temporary vulnerability factors simultaneously. Therefore, in order to prevent consumer damages to elderly persons, disabled persons, and young individuals, the temporary vulnerability factors are needed to be resolved. At the same time, the temporary vulnerability factors must be resolved not only for elderly persons, disabled persons, and young individuals, but also for all the consumers, as all the consumers are starting to face the temporary vulnerability factors due to the further development of information technology and the transformation of the society.
Each individual has a right to live reassured and safely and to make autonomic decisions with others’ respect without being excluded from society. When this right is unjustifiably infringed, an individual may seek for a rapid remedy under Articles 13 and 25 of the Constitution of Japan. This right is embodied in Article 2 of the Basic Act on Consumer Policies as a right of all consumers constituting the basis of their livelihood.
Accordingly, in order to deal with the progression of the super aging society, not only the continuing vulnerability factors faced by elderly persons, disabled persons and young individuals, but also the temporary vulnerability factors that every consumer may face must be resolved.
Therefore, in terms of respecting consumers’ rights, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (the “JFBA”) calls for the implementation of the following measures toward realizing a society in which all consumers, including but not limited to elderly persons, may live reassured and safely.
1. The Japanese government must create the following legal systems to preserve and relieve consumer damages.
- (1)As a civil rule, legislate a consumer’s right of rescission when a business operator placed a contract taking advantage of consumer’s lack of decision-making capacity, and a general clause for a consumer’s right of rescission when a business operator makes an offer to a consumer against the principle of good faith.
- (2)Introduce a system in which a consumer may previously and comprehensively deny a visiting or phone solicitation, to avoid an unexpected promotion in advance.
- (3)Develop a cross-sectional rule in administration, not limited to certain categories of transactions or advertisements and promotions, in order to widely secure fairness in trade.
- (4)Develop a legal system to make injunction requests and collective litigation for redress by qualified consumer organizations more effective, and introduce a system where specified qualified consumer organizations may file a petition in bankruptcy. Also, ensure the introduction of a financial support system for both systems above.
- (5)Examine and introduce a system in which a public administration may file a petition for bankruptcy, preserve a business operator’s property, and compensate a consumer’s damage.
2. The Japanese government and local governments must take the following measures, in order to promote creating a consumer support monitoring system for prevention, early detection, and recovery of consumer damages.
- (1) Local governments, especially the municipalities, must ensure cooperation among the consumer-life department, the welfare department, the crime-prevention departments and the disaster prevention department. They should also promote an effective monitoring project by ensuring wide participation of the public and an efficient and appropriate use of personal data.
- (2) The Japanese government and the prefectural governments must enhance their support for consolidating a monitoring system and fostering human resources by the municipalities. Also, the Japanese government must sufficiently undertake measures by providing training, information, and financial assistance.
- (3) Local governments must advance creating the comprehensive supporting system in terms of rights advocacy and decision making in the welfare field, and as part of that, promote creating a consumer support monitoring system. Also, the Japanese government must support these local governments’ measures.
- (4) The Japanese government and local governments must promote creating a consumer support monitoring system as part of building a local community based on the idea of an “inclusive local society,” “community welfare,” and “consumer civic society.”
3. The Japanese and local governments must enhance the operation of supporting one’s decision-making in terms of the current adult guardianship, ensure use of adult guardianship to prevent and recover consumer damages, and facilitate collaboration with other measures regarding rights advocacy and community welfare.
4. The Japanese and local governments must enhance the measures and efforts to prevent and recover damages from phone fraud. In particular, local governments must enact an ordinance regarding preventing damage from phone fraud, coordinate it with other measures regarding community welfare, and take initiative and support in the efforts by local business operators and citizens.
5. The Japanese government must actively support consumers so that vulnerable consumers such as elderly persons are not excluded from the deals required in one’s daily life, promote the measures in which business operators have to take reasonable care of consumers depending on the consumer’s characteristics at the deals, and create a legal system that allows appropriate supervision of business operators when the business operators are operating a support system such as a fidelity guarantee.
The JFBA adopted its “Resolution Calling on the Government to Take Measures to Prevent and Redress the Damages of Consumers” during the annual JFBA Convention on the Protection of Human Rights in 1989. Ever since, a series of resolutions and declarations have been adopted at the Convention including: Resolution Calling to Establish and Guarantee the Rights of Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities (2001), Resolution Calling to Build Communities Where the Rights of Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities to Community Living are Established (2005), Declaration for Realizing a Safe and Fair Society without Damage to Consumers (2009), Declaration Calling to Establish a System Related to Comprehensive Support for Decision Making (2015), and Resolution Aiming at Preventing and Recovering Damage, and Supporting Victims of Organized Crimes Targeting the Socially Vulnerable, Notably Special Fraud (2018). As the JFBA has undertaken various activities in line with these declarations and resolutions, some of the initiatives have produced tangible results such as the establishment of the Consumer Affairs Agency. However, many issues remain to be resolved.
Foreseeing further acceleration of the aging population, the JFBA hereby adopts anew the present resolution and, in order to realize a society where consumers can live safe and secure in an all-inclusive environment, will be fully committed to advancing the initiatives to translate the measures described above into reality, joining forces with diverse groups including the Japanese government and local governments, consumer organizations, welfare organizations, business operators, and neighborhood associations.
October 15, 2021
Japan Federation of Bar Associations