10. Health Promotion Law

The objective of the Law is to improve the health of the citizens through establishment of basic subjects regarding comprehensive promotion of national health development, while taking measures to improve nutritional state of the citizens, against the backdrop of rapidly growing importance in national health development due to rapid aging of the population and changes in the overall disease structure.

The Law sets out respective responsibilities of the citizens, the central and local governments, and institutions implementing health promotional activities (among them insurers, business undertakings, local government administrations and schools) (Articles 2 through 6), and also provides for formulation by the Minister of the basic guidelines for comprehensive promotion of national health development, formulation by the local governments of health promotion plans, and guidelines on conducting health checkups (Articles 7 through 9). In addition, the Law obliges nutritional management in specified school lunch facilities (of the facilities consistently supplying meals to targeted and large groups of persons, those specified by the Ordinance of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry) (Articles 20 through 24); obliges prevention of second-hand smoking (Article 25); and requires permit from the Ministry when labeling as fitting special uses including specific health purposes ("Special Utility Labeling") while simultaneously setting out the standards for such labeling (Articles 26 through 33).

Enforcement Order of the Health Promotion Law
Enforcement Regulations of the Health Promotion Law

1) Items subject to regulation
Food products for sale
2) Outline of regulations and relevant measures
i. Substance of regulations and relevant measures
Those intending to label their food products for sale with Special Utility Labels, for uses laid out in Ministerial Ordinances, including uses for infants, children, pregnant women and the sick, must receive permit from the Minister. Permit must be applied to the Minister through governors of the prefecture where the business office resides in, with attached samples of products and names of labels. Applications will be examined by the National Institute of Health and Nutrition (NIHN) or testing organizations registered to the Minister (Article 26). In addition, permitted specific utility foods will be subject to sampled certification conducted as necessary, in order to ensure that permitted ingredients and quality are met, and that products are appropriately labeled (Article 27).

ii. Nutrition display standards
If nutritional displays are to be attached on food products upon sale, then mandatory criteria must be met in principle, whether imported or domestically produced (Article 31). Nutrition display standards includes nutritional ingredients and range of calories subject to display obligations, items and methods to be displayed (including items such as calories, proteins, fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and the specification that contained amount of respective nutrients must be displayed in this order), and standards for emphatic displays (standards that are to be met when displaying, for example, "high" and "containing" for dietary fibers and calcium, and "none" and "low" for substances such as calories, fat, or cholesterol).

iii. Health-promoting food labels
Health-promoting food labels are introduced since April of 2002 for the so-called health foods, based on the Health Promotion Law as well as the Food Sanitation Law. Labels are comprised of "Specific Health-purpose Food" labels, which require individual labeling permits by the Minister, and "Nutritional Function Food" labels, which would be attached without individual permits if meeting standard specifications.

Tests which were required for permits or approval of Special Utility and other labels, which were originally conducted singularly by NIHN, an independent administrative agency, can now be conducted also by private testing agencies which are registered testing agencies. In addition, provisions of prohibiting fraudulent and excessive advertising regarding effects of health maintenance and promotion were introduced.

Office of Health Policy on New Developed Foods, Standards and Evaluation Division, Department of Food Safety, Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
Tel: 03-5253-1111