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Responding to an outcry from dealers in used goods and musicians, the government said Friday it will relax regulations on trade in noncertified used electrical items that were set to take effect April 1.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry backed off from its earlier plan to ban sales of electrical goods without so-called PSE stickers certifying their safety.

PSE is short for “product safety of electric appliance and material.”

After meeting with a group of about 30 secondhand goods dealers, Hidetaka Fukuda, head of METI’s consumer policy affairs division, said the government will allow the dealers to sell electrical items, including musical instruments, without the PSE sticker if they conduct safety inspections of the products at some time in the future.

“In reality, there is a serious shortage of equipment necessary for safety tests. We need to find a solution so as not to cause great economic losses among used goods dealers who have a considerable amount of inventory,” Fukuda said.

Koichiro Ogawa, who heads the dealer group, welcomed the government’s decision, saying it is “tantamount to delaying the start of the sales ban.”

“We were worried about the possible halt of our businesses and subsequent bankruptcies because of the ban. With this flexible measure, we can avoid a supply shortage crisis,” he said.

The ban will take effect under the revised Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law, which came into force in 2001.

The government had set a five-year transition period to give dealers and buyers of used items time to prepare for the new regulations, but a lack of information from METI led to confusion and protests by merchants and musicians.

The law stipulates that sales of 450 items, including televisions, refrigerators, radios, videocassette recorders and game consoles, will be prohibited if they do not have PSE stickers.

But transactions between individuals, rentals and selling such items overseas is allowed. Businesses that sell electrical items without the PSE stickers face up to 100 million yen in fines.

Fukuda indicated the government will not punish dealers trading goods without PSE certification, even after April 1, treating such transactions as “leasing.”

The government will also overlook trade in used items without the certification between businesses if there is a possibility that they will eventually be exported, he said.

Fukuda and Ogawa said the two sides will continue discussions on the implementation of the law after April 1 to clarify certain points. The dealers’ group is seeking a total exemption of secondhand items from the ban.

Oscar-winning musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and other artists have also urged METI to be flexible in enforcing the ban to enable trade of older electronic musical instruments.

Following an uproar among the dealers and musicians, METI announced last week it will exempt from the restrictions such vintage items as synthesizers, stereos, vacuum tube amplifiers, movie projectors and photograph enlargement machines. Specifics on the exemptions have not been determined yet.