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Two standards, one mandatory, one voluntary – navigate the complexities of Japan’s Food Sanitation Law and Toy Standard to access this valuable, and growing market.

Worth 675.6 billion yen in 2013, Japan’s toy market imports almost one third of its toy products (199.9 billion yen in 2013). In a country with declining birth rates and still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami events of 2011, Japan has still seen ongoing growth in demand for toys.  To protect its youngest consumers and ensure that only safe products are marketed within its boundaries, all toys destined for the Japanese market are governed by two main standards:

  • The Japan Food Sanitation Act, commonly known as the Japan Food Sanitation Law, or JFSL, and
  • The Safety Toy Standard, also known as the ST Standard, in association with the ST Mark, managed and operated by the Japan Toy Association (JTA)

Food Sanitation Law

Toys intended for use by children aged 6, or younger, must comply with the JFSL and the definitions contained within its Specification and Standards for Food and Food Additives. This document also includes defined specifications for food contact materials and articles, as well as those relevant to toy products. Toys requiring JFSL compliance fall into three categories:

  • Category 1: any toy intended to come into direct contact with a child’s mouth, including pacifiers
  • Category 2: toys such as balloons, clay dolls and housekeeping toys, as well as intellectual development toys that have the potential to come into contact with a child’s mouth
  • Category 3: toy accessories that are intended to be played with in combination with a category 1 or 2 toy

JFSL stipulates that the complete finished product must be tested and compliant, including paints and other surface finishes, not the component parts.

JFSL is regulated by Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, the MHLW, and any laboratory testing toys against its requirements, whether a domestic lab, or one operating outside Japan, must be MHLW approved before its test reports will be accepted by Japanese authorities.

Safety Toy (ST) Standard

Established in 1971 by a number of organisations, including the JTA and the Japanese authorities, the ST Standard’s scope is much broader than JFSL and applies to toys for children up to the age of 14. Regulated by the Japan Toy Association, the JTA, the ST standard, together with the ST Mark, is a voluntary standard.

Like many international toy safety standards, the ST Standard consists of three main parts:

  • Part 1: mechanical and physical properties
  • Part 2: flammability 
  • Part 3: restricted chemicals

Any lab testing to the ST Standard must be approved by the JTA. Harmonisation of standards means that the ST Standard’s toy material specifications are identical to the JFSL, with some additions. Therefore, a toy that is compliant with the ST standard will also be JFSL compliant.

When a toy product has achieved ST Standard compliance, application can be made to the JTA to display the ST Mark, an emblem that can only be applied to toys that have successfully demonstrated compliance.

JFSL and ST Approved Laboratories

We have approved and designated laboratories to test for compliance with JFSL in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam and for compliance with the ST standard in Hong Kong and Thailand.

Find out More

Available on demand, SGS’s Market Safe Toys to Japan podcast examines the country’s regulatory landscape in more detail.

Watch the podcast.

For further details contact your local sales representative or the global team and visit our website SGS Toys.

Hingwo Tsang, Ph.D.
CTS Toys and Juvenile Products
Information and Innovation Manager
SGS Hong Kong Limited 
1/F On Wui Centre
25 Lok Yip Road
Fanling, N.T,
Hong Kong
t: +852 2774 7420