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The Product Liability Act

(Act No.85,1994)

(tentative translation)



Article 1 (Purpose)

The purpose of this Act is to relieve the injured person by setting forth liability of the manufacturer, etc. for damages when the injury on a life, a body, or property is caused by a defect in the product, and thereby to contribute to the stabilization and improvement of the people's life and to the sound development of the national economy.



Article 2 (Definitions)

(1) As used in this Act, the term "product" means movable property manufactured or processed.

(2) As used in this Act, the term "defect" means lack of safety that the product ordinarily should provide, taking into account the nature of the product, the ordinarily foreseeable manner of use of the product, the time when the manufacturer, etc. delivered the product, and other circumstances concerning the product.

(3) As used in this Act, the term "manufacturer, etc." means any one of the following:

1. any person who manufactured, processed, or imported the product as business (hereinafter called just "manufacturer");

2. any person who, by putting his name, trade name, trade mark or other feature (hereinafter called "representation of name, etc.") on the product presents himself as its manufacturer, or any person who puts the representation of name, etc. on the product in a manner mistakable for the manufacturer;

3. apart from any person mentioned in the preceding subsections, any person who, by putting the representation of name, etc. on the product , may be recognized as its manufacturer-in-fact, in the light of a manner concerning manufacturing, processing, importation or sales, and other circumstances.



Article 3 (Product Liability)

The manufacturer, etc. shall be liable for damages caused by the injury, when he injured someone's life, body or property by the defect in his delivered product which he manufactured, processed, imported or put the representation of name, etc. as described in subsection 2 or 3 of section 3 of Article 2 on. However, the manufacturer, etc. is not liable when only the defective product itself is damaged.



Article 4 (Exemptions)

In cases where Article 3 applies, the manufacturer, etc. shall not be liable as a result of Article 3 if he proves;

1. that the state of scientific or technical knowledge at the time when the manufacturer, etc. delivered the product was not such as to enable the existence of the defect in the product to be discovered; or

2. in the case where the product is used as a component or raw material of another product, that the defect is substantially attributable to compliance with the instruction concerning the specifications given by the manufacturer of the said another product, and that the manufacturer, etc. is not negligent on occurrence of the defect.



Article 5 (Time Limitations)

(1) The right for damages provided in Article 3 shall be extinguished by prescription if the injured person or his legal representative does not exercise such right within 3 years from the time when he becomes aware of the damage and the liable party for the damage. The same shall also apply upon the expiry of a period of 10 years from the time when the manufacturer, etc. delivered the product.

(2) The period in the latter sentence of section 1 of this Article shall be calculated from the time when the damage arises, where such damage is caused by the substances which are harmful to human health when they remain or accumulate in the body, or where the symptoms for such damage appear after a certain latent period.



Article 6 (Application of Civil Code)

In so far as this act does not provide otherwise, the liability of the manufacturer, etc. for damages caused by a defect in the product shall be subject to the provisions of the Civil Code (Act No.89, 1896).



Supplementary Provisions

1. Enforcement Date, etc. This Act shall come into force the day after one year from the date of promulgation, and shall apply to the products delivered by the manufacturer, etc. after this Act comes into force.

2. Partial Amendment of the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage The Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage (Act No.147, 1961) shall be partially amended as follows:

In section 3 of Article 4 of that Act, "and the Act relating to the Limitation of the Liability of shipowners (Act No.94, 1975)" shall be amended as ", the Act relating to the Limitation of the Liability of shipowners (Act No.94, 1975) and the Product Liability Act (Act No.85, 1994)".
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