In a move expected to hit Japan’s exporters in the pocketbook, the European Union is likely to begin enforcing a new environmental directive next spring that requires manufacturers and importers to ensure the safety of the chemicals they use and to assess their environmental effects, an EU official said Monday.

The regulations on registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals, known as REACH, proposed by the EU in 2003 aim to reduce the use of chemicals whose effects on health and the environment are uncertain, by making companies rather than governments responsible for ensuring their safety, the EU said.

The rules will require businesses that produce or import 1 ton or more of chemicals per year to submit information on the substances and register the information on an EU database.

While many Japanese companies doing business in the EU are expected to adjust to the new rules, Japan’s own environmental groups are likely to urge similarly stringent regulations be applied at home. Japan began regulating newly produced chemicals only after 1973, but not on some 20,000 chemicals produced before that year.

Masatoshi Ogura of the Japan Chemical Industry Association, said the new EU rules may hurt exporters because companies that use products from outside the EU that contain certain chemicals will have to submit more data.

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