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A task force of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Friday approved a proposed amendment to the Consumer Protection Basic Law to widen the scope of consumer rights and encourage them to be self-reliant.

The proposed legislation, jointly drafted by the LDP and its coalition partner, New Komeito, stipulates that the safety of consumers should be assured as part of consumer rights.

The scope of rights in the proposed law includes receiving swift relief measures in case of damage and reflecting consumer opinions in administrative policymaking.

In the first full-scale revision of the law, which came into effect in 1968, policymakers are urged to help consumers become more self-reliant — a shift from the current law’s basic concept of protecting consumers.

The word “protection” would be removed from the name of the law, often dubbed the “constitution for consumers,” which was established after a series of corporate scandals that caused serious damage to consumers in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Morinaga arsenic-contaminated milk scandal in 1955.

The LDP said the revision is designed to catch up with new high-tech products and services.

The LDP and New Komeito will approve the proposal soon and submit it to the current Diet session next week in the form of a bill sponsored by lawmakers.

In the process of drafting the amendment, the LDP had proposed defining consumers’ responsibilities. But it backed off in the face of opposition from New Komeito.

The two parties created a clause calling for consumers to “give due consideration” to the protection of intellectual property rights, which observers say would serve as grounds for the government to prohibit purchases of illegally copied products.

Among other features of the amendment, the government would be obliged to draw up basic policy plans to assist consumers.

Prefectural governments would have to set up complaint-handling channels similar to those at smaller communities under the current law.

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