What will change in Japan starting April 1st: Revised Laws and Price Changes

ByAndria Varble

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April 1st is the start of the fiscal year in Japan for government agencies, schools, and many private companies.

Below is a summary of some of the main legal and price changes that will go into effect starting April 1st.

Food and product prices

In addition to higher raw material costs being faced by manufacturers around the world, Japanese companies are also being squeezed as the weak yen drives up import costs. The yen has depreciated by about 6% against the dollar this year.

The war in Ukraine has also driven up the price of bread and noodles worldwide, with analysts forecasting the price of wheat to continue rising. The Japanese government selling price of imported wheat will be raised by about 17% starting April 1st.

Below is a summary of other price increases that have already been announced by food manufacturers in Japan.

The Nisshin Oillio Group, which sells salad dressing, cooking oil, and margarine, will raise the price of household cooking oil by more than ¥40 (about 33 cents in USD) per kilogram.

Kagome plans to raise the price of tomato ketchup by up to 9.0%.

Otsuka Foods will be raising the pre-tax price of Bon Curry Gold by ¥10 to ¥190. Bon Curry was the world’s first commercially available food in plastic pouch bags (retort bags) and was introduced by Otsuka Foods in 1968!

Suntory Spirits plans to significantly raise the price of Yamazaki 12 Years, its flagship whiskey, by about 18% from ¥8,500 to ¥10,000 for a 700-ml bottle.

The price of Umaibo (small, puffed cylindrical corn snacks) will be raised from ¥10 to ¥12. The company which makes these iconic snacks, Yaokin, has not raised the price of the popular treats since they were introduced over 40 years ago. When Yaokin said a few months ago that it would be increasing the price in April, the announcement was greeted with shock by fans. Umaibo have already been subject to “shrinkflation” (a decrease in the size of the package) some years ago.

Kao, the makers of “Mary’s” disposable diapers, plans to increase the price of this popular brand by about 10%.

Nippon Paper Crecia, which makes and sells family and personal care products under license from Kimberly Clark, will be increasing the price of household paper, such as “Scotty” tissues, by more than 10%.

Household electricity rates

Seven out of the ten largest power companies in Japan plan to increase rates starting on April 1st.

The table below shows the estimated increase in the monthly bill for the average household. (Source: energy-shift.com)

Estimated Expected Change in Monthly Electricity Bill Starting April 1, 2022
Company Est. Increase in JPY Est. Monthly Electricity Bill
for an Average Household
Est. % Increase
Chubu Electric Power 127 8,076 1.6%
TEPCO 115 8,359 1.4%
Tohoku Electric Power 98 8,431 1.2%
Okinawa Electric Power 65 8,823 0.7%
Kyushu Electric Power 57 7,161 0.8%
Hokkaido Electric Power 56 8,322 0.7%
Shikoku Electric Power 52 7,891 0.7%
Chugoku Electric Power No change 8,005 N/A
Kansai Electric Power No change 7,473 N/A
Hokuriku Electric Power No change 7,187 N/A

Toll roads

The Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway will increase the maximum charge for ordinary passenger cars from ¥1,320 to ¥1,950.

Age of adulthood to be lowered to 18

On April 1st, Japan will lower the age of adulthood from 20 to 18 by revising the Civil Code and changing the legal definition of an adult for the first time in over 140 years.

This opens up new freedoms and responsibilities for 18-year olds, who will now be able to sign up for a cell phone contract, rent an apartment, and take out loans and open credit card accounts without the consent of their parents.

Reducing disposable plastic items

Starting April 1st, companies in Japan that handed out more than five tons of disposable plastic items, including cutlery, combs, toothbrushes, razors, hairbrushes, clothes hangers and garment covers, to customers in the previous year, will be required to reduce the amount they distribute.

This ordinance will especially affect convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and laundries. Companies can choose how to cut down on the amount of plastic they use. For example, stores may impose a charge to encourage customers to refuse unwanted plastic. Some convenience stores have already started to switch to wooden cutlery or to punch holes in the handles of forks and spoons to reduce the amount of plastic used.

Legal revision to encourage more men to take childcare leave

Starting April 1st the Revised Child Care and Nursing Care Leave Law will include provisions to encourage more men to take paternity (childcare) leave.

In 2019, according to the Ministry of Labor, only about 7.48% of men took paternity leave and of those about 80% took less than a month to stay home with their child. The goal of the legal revision is to raise this percentage to 30% by 2025.

The main provision of the revised law is that starting on April 1st, when an employee notifies their company of a pregnancy or birth, the company is obligated to individually confirm with the employee (regardless of their gender) whether they intend to take childcare leave. Companies that fail to do so may be subject to guidance by the Ministry of Labor. Companies are also obligated to report the rate at which male employees take childcare leave. However, the law only applies to companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Delay in pension start date

Starting April 1st, people receiving a pension from the public pension system will be able to delay the age at which they start receiving a pension from the current age of 70 to 75. People who delay their pension start date until the age of 75 will be able to receive increased benefits.


Sources:

  • jiji.com, 値上げの春、暮らしに負担 18歳が成人に―4月からこう変わる (Japanese)
  • energy-shift.com/news (Japanese)
  • Kyodo, Japan to cut plastic waste from April via new Cabinet ordinance (English)
  • nhk.com,【取得の意向確認 企業に義務づけ】法改正で進むか 男性の育休 (Japanese)

Lead photo: iStock 680979184