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Japan's Gaming History Now Safe 105

Posted by Zonk
from the can't-keep-an-old-NES-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian today has covered the final part of the ongoing saga regarding the Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law in Japan. Thankfully, the law has been almost reversed allowing the continued sale of second hand electrical goods (including games consoles)." From the article: "The Japanese secondhand electrical goods market was officially estimated last year to be worth around £500m ... The government probably hoped the law would go largely unnoticed and bring a variety of benefits. By taking the money out of the secondhand market and injecting it into the market for new goods, regulation (of old products) and revivalisation (of the economy) would be achieved in one fell swoop. On paper, anyway. In practice it was rather different."
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Japan's Gaming History Now Safe

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  • by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:12AM (#15025697) Journal
    Another example of government thinking that they can artificially manipulate the market.
    • And who do you think artificially manipulates the Japanese government?
    • Wouldn't that be "liberal zealot mode"? Well, okay, that's pretty close to right-wing but anyway.
      • Wouldn't that be "liberal zealot mode"?

        In Europe, where a liberal is more or less a classical liberal, then yes. In America, where a liberal is more or less a social democrat, then no. In America, European liberals are called classical liberals, libertarians (although there are different strands of libertarianism ranging from a civil liberties + free market stance with "states' rights" to anarchocapitalism), or economic conservatives.

        • I think this constant labeling of politicians and their parties does nothing but confuse people and simplify their political views to the point of obscuricy. It would be much more constructive to list parties policy priorities as well as their monotary affliliations to get a better picture of their intentions. For example, calling all of the Chinese people communists is nothing but a distraction and a divertion to make it impossible for people to understand and be more active in politics in general.
          England
        • Would it not be the other way around?

          The right condones deregulation of the economy as far as government is concerned. The left condones regulating the economy with government power. If the Japanese government wanted to regulate sales, then that qualifies it as "left wing."
    • Au contraire, the government certainly can manipulate the market -- but not for the better.
    • More like another example of an industry/group trying to manipulate the market via the government.

    • Another example of government thinking that they can artificially manipulate the market.

      ... by mandating that all new devices meet minimum requirements for electrical safety? And that older equipment be reinspected before sale to ensure that they also meet the minimum requirements (unless it's "vintage" or for export)?

      What really gets at me is that people ever really thought that the used games/ham radio/vintage stereo equipment markets were ever going to be hurt in any meaningful way by needing to cert

  • I'm grateful... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by parasonic (699907) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:15AM (#15025716)
    The environmental impact of this law alone made it a preposterous idea to begin with. I'm glad that it was halted. I think that this would have made Japan look really bad in other nations' eyes. They probably didn't want to take any of the US's "credit" in collossal wastefulness.
    • Re:I'm grateful... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:29AM (#15025793)
      The Japanese are already extremely wasteful. You should see how often they toss out perfectly good mobile phones all in an effort to get the next best thing.

      Something as simple as taking home leftovers from a restaurant is unheard of. You could have an entire plate of food left over and they'll look at you like you've got two heads if you ask them to wrap it.

      They've already got laws which make it prohibitively expensive to own a car for more than a few years. They're pretty much forced into buying new cars every couple of years.

      Even without these laws Japanese are always clamoring after the shinest new product. I bet the Japanese government didn't expect people to have a problem with those regulations. In fact, I'm surprised people were upset enough that they went out and had demonstrations. Good for them, I'm glad to see they did do something about it.
      • Re:I'm grateful... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AnonymousPrick (956548) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:59AM (#15025965)
        You should see how often they toss out perfectly good mobile phones all in an effort to get the next best thing.

        I don't know what it's like in Japan - I've never been but I'd love to go!
        Anyway, the battery in my cordless phone isn't holding a charge. So I thought, "I'll just go and buy a new one. It couldn't cost more than $10." HA! The battery was going for about $19 - the phone, brand new, costs $17! It actually pays to through the phone away and buy a new one!

        Fucking marketing!

        • It actually pays to through the phone away and buy a new one!

          The 'through' instead of 'throw' actually looked correct the first couple of times I read it!

          Aye aye aye! and Oy vey!

        • You might be able to rebuild the battery for that phone using new cells. With a bit of luck you might even be able to use 'regular' sized (AA, AAA or AAAA) cells to keep down costs. If not, it might still be cheaper and definitely more satisfying to rebuild the battery pack. Satisfying because you saved some space on the dump and saved some money from getting trapped in their marketing-plans... I have done this with countless rechargeable things (from phones via electric toothbrushes to drills and laptop ba
        • My favorite is printers. Ink cartridges for my printer (Epson C82) cost $57.94 for a full set according to Amazon. A brand new C82 costs $58.00, often on sale for cheaper in retail stores, and comes with a full set of ink cartridges. I could maybe understand a cordless phone battery vs. the cordless phone (economy of scale and all) but printers just baffle me.
      • Re:I'm grateful... (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Elfich47 (703900)
        The rich can afford to get the next shiny thing. The poor still pick up the scraps. The law will make it that anyone who can't afford new will have to go without. No one said the law was not being implemented, just the testing will be free for the first six months.

      • Re:I'm grateful... (Score:4, Informative)

        by doctor_no (214917) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:35AM (#15026229)
        If you libed in Japan you would know that Japan has one of the strictest recycling policies in the world. The very vast majority of electronics goods are recycled or resold (usually to other countries). Which makes sense because the cost of land for a landfill is astronomialy high.

        In majority prefectures you have to dispose of electronic goods seperately from the rest of your garbage (which in turn becomes recycled). All electronic goods in Japan are required by law to have a certain percent recyclable. In addition, in Japan you have to seperate into "burnable/moeru gomi", "non-burnable/moenai gomi:, and recyclable garbage, and depending on where you like you have to further seperate organic waste (nama gomi), paper, glass (by color in my area), steel, aluminum, etc.
      • Strange... According to you and many other people, Japan would be a foreign dumpster-diver's paradise. Maybe that's why there are new (by Chinese standards, and in terms of the tech used, not in terms of usage time) PHS, CDMA, and PDC phones on eBay here in China. I can get a phone that can play MP3s with video recording and playback using a SD card for $25 on eBay here [ebay.com] (page will be full of question marks because eBay US mis-processes pages from its Chinese counterpart, but the price at the top should ma
    • Mod Parent Up (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm glad to see an environmentalist in these boards.
  • Revivalization (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bombula (670389) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:18AM (#15025727)
    "By taking the money out of the secondhand market and injecting it into the market for new goods, regulation (of old products) and revivalisation (of the economy) would be achieved in one fell swoop."

    Wow, that was a winner of an idea. I wonder why they didn't think to apply the same regulation to, say, used cars?

    "Revivalization" is a awesome word, by the way.

    • Re:Revivalization (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TorKlingberg (599697) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:22AM (#15025754)
      I wonder why they didn't think to apply the same regulation to, say, used cars?
      They already do.
      The Japanese government is completely controlled by large corporations.
      • Thankfully, here in America, our government isn't completely controlled by large corporations... er... what?
      • Re:Revivalization (Score:5, Informative)

        by earthbound kid (859282) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:36AM (#15025838) Homepage
        In case people think you're kidding, let me spell it out about the cars. In Japan, every car needs to have an inspection. The older your car, the most frequent and more expensive the inspection. After a while, it costs more to have your car inspected than to buy a new car. Thus most of the cars that you see in Japan are under 10 years old. In America, you still see a fair amount of cars from the 70s and 80s, but in Japan, you just don't at all.

        My understanding is that the old Japanese cars are sold to Australia, since they're also right hand drive and relatively close.
        • Re:Revivalization (Score:2, Informative)

          by Half a dent (952274)
          The UK get a lot of Japanese "Grey Imports" too, Skylines and Supras being popular. Dealerships refuse to service them though but most of these cars get so modded they have few original parts beside the engine block anyway!
        • Or they're parted out and the applicable parts are farmed out all over the world. The reason you can buy a low-time used engine for a Japanese car for quite considerably less than you can get a rebuild in the US is because of the amazing market in used engines from Japan. Also transmissions. Often $2000 for an engine and transmission replacement that's what we would consider nearly new (50,000 km.)
          • Unfortuantely for us, some of the import/export laws involved have changed and it has started to become more costly to purchase used engines from Japan. I've seen the prices on some imported engines from some vendors increase by up to $1000 over the last year or so. It's a shame really since the American youth tuner crowd was making good use out of old chasis and discarded old motors from Japan. Basically they were implementing a different kind of recycling plan.
            • Reuse (as the ricers... er tuners do) is much more efficient that recycling, but Japan is run by bean counters, PHBs, and bureaucrats so that's unlikely to matter to them.
              • Re:Revivalization (Score:3, Interesting)

                by RESPAWN (153636)
                Now, now. I think there is a distinct difference between Ricers and Tuners. Ricers are all about the flashy graphics, park bench spoiler, chopped springs (but without a realignment or proper shock absorbeer adjustments), and most importantly, the coffee can exhaust. They may or may not have an imported motor, but if they do it's usually all chromed up and underneath a plastic hood or some crap.

                What I would refer to as a tuner would be the ones who actually spend most of their money to increase the perfor
            • It could just be the dollar/yen trading rate? Yeah, I knew kids who were sticking nitrous on a stock Corolla and turning 12-second quarter miles... once. Then they'd take in the trashed Corolla and get another engine.
              • Hahaha. Yeah, a good friend of mine still holds the record for the 4th or 5th fastest Miata in the 1/4-mile in the states. As often as not he broke something, but that's mostly a part of racing.

                I guess it could be a factor of the dollar/yen trade rate. I have no idea how much the exchange rate has changed over the last couple of years. I could have sworn somebody said that there was also some kind of legislation involved that contributed, too. Oh well, I guess it's not matter since if you want an impor
                • I had a friend who'd shoehorned a blown RX-7 rotary into a Miata. That thing was one seriously terrifying car. I was glad he'd had the good sense to weld in a four-point rollbar. Some day it'd be fun to get an older Miata. They seem like really good starters for something loud, expensive, unsafe, and fun. And now you've gotten me curious: I'll have to talk to some engine importer friends and see what's up with it.
        • In Japan, every car needs to have an inspection. The older your car, the most frequent and more expensive the inspection.

          It's called the "shaken". As in you're getting "shaken down" for more money.

          • *wiping C1000 physical drink lemon water off of screen*

            Thank you. That was one of the funniest things I've heard lately.
            I got "shaken" on my car a few months ago and that's exactly what it felt like.
      • Do you know of any government that isn't? Besides, I believe the people there also have a right to vote. That being the case, maybe it's the voters that are completely controlled by large corporations. Anyway, if they don't like it, they can always vote in a small corporation :-)
    • They do, and they ship all those old used cars to Australia for resale. The roads in Western Australia are dotted with models that were never released here, half of them blowing smoke.
  • by lbrandy (923907) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:18AM (#15025731)
    "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. " -Yogi Berra

    Amazingly true... especially in economics...
  • FYI (Score:4, Informative)

    by XMilkProject (935232) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:27AM (#15025780) Homepage
    For those that don't know, here is a little background info:

    People in Japan never purchase used electronics, in fact they purchase new electronics at a pace which dwarfs American technology purchases. It's just sort of a Japanese thing... They always want the newest/best/coolest bit of technology.

    There are however, many poorer countries around Japan, and there is an amazing market for these used electronics in nearby countries. For some time now there has been a massive organized sale of used electronics to other countries, creating pretty substantial profits.
    This could be powered by anything from ebay to organized supply chains.

    Basically the Japanese government felt like they could possibly direct some of this revenue to the electronics manufacturers, and increase the sales of new items, therefore promoting growth and new technologies, etc, etc.

    The thing here to remember is that it never impacted the Japanese directly, as it is extremely rare for a japenese person to buy a used electronics item for themselves, but rather it impacted them indirectly by making it harder to profit from the resale of items.

    Anyone feel free to correct me on this.........
    • Me, me...

      The the Chain store

      Hard Off

      Book Off

      House Off

      and Car Off

      All specialized in second hands items... can be found all acrosse Japan... Good stuff, like new...
    • Re:FYI (Score:3, Informative)

      by tpgp (48001)
      that it never impacted the Japanese directly, as it is extremely rare for a japenese person to buy a used electronics item

      You're right - it is extremely rare for the Japanese to buy second hand electronics - but there is one area pointed out by the article that is a notable exception (no not Games).

      Thats music.

      For many people a second hand guitar & amp is not just a cheaper solution, but a superior solution. Rightly or wrongly, many people prefer the sounds of older equipment.
    • Re:FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by earthbound kid (859282) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:43AM (#15025877) Homepage
      Um, have you ever been to "Hard Off"? (Yes mods, that's really the name. It's a sister store to "Book Off" and, also amusingly, "Kimono Off.") All they sell there are used electronics and used CDs/DVDs/VHSs. Yet they continue to be in business. Heck, just wander around the oh-so-trendy-now Akihabara section of Tokyo. That place is jam packed with shops selling used monitors, used game systems, used everything electronic. Used video games in Japan sell for pretty close to the original price, maybe minus only $5 or $10. My friend said he got good prices for reselling his games, but I haven't tried, so I can't give you a quote on that. Used games are also in really nice shape, generally, so it's almost worth the high cost.

      Anyhow, it's not true that Japanese only buy new stuff.
      • by Eccles (932)
        Do Japanese women divorce their lazy husbands at "Jerk Off"?
        • by BAKup (40339)
          Do Japanese women divorce their lazy husbands at "Jerk Off"?

          No, that's where you go to buy used porn.
      • Ah book off.
        I remember when I went to Japan, going to book off and buying "used" manga for 100 yen each, which was basically new manga, because it barely looked used.

        I also remember that book off was full of cd's, I have no idea if they were used or not though, because there were more than a Tokyo department store.
        And where that book off was, was a used electronics store which was crazy.
        Original gameboy pockets for 650 yen, Gameboy advanced for about 6000 yen (roughly 65 AUS here, compared to 100
    • Then why have they been buying up classic electric guitars and audio equipment for years?
    • They are a lot diffrent than us, I for one, Only buy used consoles (handhelds and PCs are exceptions). The newest console I have is the N64, but I do play my NES, SNES, Genesis, Tubrografx and so on. Hell, I didn't get a new handheld since I got my GBA in 2001.
    • of course they buy secondhand electronics. if you go to Tokyo at least it is jam packed with video game shops selling shelves full of secondhand game machines and games - almost without exception!
  • The Worst Law Ever (Score:2, Informative)

    by MrFlibbs (945469)
    From TFA: 'Musicians, gamers; add in a large swath of the press citing this law as simply the "worst law ever" and the government had a big problem on its hands.'

    No kidding. Essentially, the law made it illegal to buy a used electronic device. The justification was that it would keep "unsafe" devices out of circulation, but that was merely an excuse to force consumers to buy new stuff instead. Japan must have one heck of a corporate marketing lobby!

    The good news is that the public outcry forced the law
  • not again (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    so, once again, some "sky is falling" environmentalists have beaten down a sound economic stimulus plan. There is PLENTY of room in the landfills for a couple of extra PSPs. Freakin' libs.
  • by Snamh Da Ean (916391) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:41AM (#15025866)
    I can't get over the idea that they seriously considered restricting secondhand markets. Functioning secondhand markets reduce the new purchase price of consumer goods since you can get some of your cash back if you decide to sell; in other words, it makes you more likely to but the new good in the first place. Removing this option reduces the effective demand for the new good, which is contrary to what they were planning to achieve. In addition, the environmental effects of such a policy would have been potentially terrible.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But look at the current debate in the trade about second-hand software (games) market in the UK.
      • Big Retailer sells game for £35, makes £10 profit, publisher gets £10.
      • Customer plays game, returns it to retailer for £10
      • Retailer sells game to new customer while the game is still hot for £30.
      • Customer plays game, returns it to retailer for £10
      • Retailer sells game to new customer while the game is not quite so hot for £25.

      End result: publisher gets £10 and retailer g

      • # Customer plays game, returns it to retailer for £10
        # Retailer sells game to new customer while the game is still hot for £30.

        There's your problem right there. If the game was really worth 45 quid in the first place, the customer wouldn't have been done with it in two weeks. Part of the problem, at least in the USA, is the annual sports games -- aside from footy, I guess, which is worldwide. People happily plonk down fifty bucks for esentially the same game, only with the player names chang

    • I too find pushing out the old to be needlessly wasteful. Resale value is something I sometimes consider. I buy used equipment at least as much as new equipment, especially if I think the value for the money is still good.
  • Electric heated toilet seats. Just imagine: Plop! Zap!
  • There have been many attempts (during human history) to legislate the buying, entertaining, and personal preferences of the people. (In my opinion) there haven't been any successful governmental squeezes on consumers (except for things that have to do with REAL safety, etc.).

  • by Locus Mote (307298) <gregory.a.lee@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:58AM (#15025964) Homepage

    When oldskool is outlawed, only outlaws will be oldskool.

    or... as Charlton Heston said...

    FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!!!!

    viva la Colecovision! hahahahah

  • You gotta remember this is a country where they can get away with charging you something like US$5K ( last I knew anyhoo ) to "inspect" your car when it gets to be 5 years old IIRC. We'll know things have changed there when infuriated mobs linch the inspectors and the politicians who created them.
    • "You gotta remember this is a country where they can get away with charging you something like US$5K ( last I knew anyhoo ) to "inspect" your car when it gets to be 5 years old IIRC."

      The only people who have cars are the ones who can afford to throw money around like that. They have these things called "trains" over there, or so I hear.

      Ever wonder why you never hear of the Great Japanese Road Trip?
      • Ever wonder why you never hear of the Great Japanese Road Trip?

        Maybe it has more to do with the islands' land areas adding up to less than California? By the time you get up to speed, you're already there. ;)
  • The Japanese secondhand electrical goods market was officially estimated last year to be worth around £500m

    So the Japanese have switched their currency to the Pound Sterling?

  • "The Japanese secondhand electrical goods market was officially estimated last year to be worth around £500m"

    OK, but what is that in metric?
  • I for one am absolutely shocked by the huge number of deaths in Japan caused by old Pong games and Stratocaster guitars!

    Please won't somebody save the children!
  • by RexRhino (769423) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:07PM (#15026495)
    Banning the purchase of perfectly good 2nd hand items, in order to "stimulate the economy", is a perfect example of "The Broken Window Fallacy". Apparently government central planners haven't taken basic high school level economics:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_window_fallacy [wikipedia.org]

    To sum it up... yes, a person by being forced to purchase brand new TV, instead of second hand TV, does spend more money on the new item than second hand... but it doesn't add more money to the economy. The person might have been purchasing a second hand TV, so that they could purchase a new watch. Or they might have purchased a second hand TV, and then spent the money saved on school books. In order words, they have to do without some other item in order to spend more on the television. And that doesn't even include the hidden enviornmental costs - not only is there poluttion from building the new TV, but now you have a perfectly good old TV that you need to get rid of.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:49PM (#15027469)
    That's where the fallacy comes in. What if you can't afford the shiny new tool? You could afford the old parts (barely, but you could), and they'd probably serve you well, but you simply can't buy the new goodies, lacking money.

    In other words, instead of generating low income (in form of tax) for the country, they now generate NO income instead. Great move! You sure the idea came from Japan and not the EC parlament?

    But at least it now makes sense why in Cyberpunk novels nobody seems to remember any stuff built before 2020...
  • by ZhuLien (150593)
    how is it now safe? it is better than it was going to be, but 1989 still makes it hard to sell 8bit computer and video game equipment...
  • from the can't-keep-an-old-NES-down dept.

    Shouldn't that be the "can't-keep-an-old-Famicom-down dept." because the NES is called the Nintendo Family Computer in Japan?

    Wikipedia Famicom article [wikipedia.org]

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