Export controls

General controls

What general controls are imposed on exports?

For exports from Japan, an export declaration, inspection and permit are required under the Customs Act. An export declaration requires submission of an export declaration in a prescribed form, an invoice, a package list and other documents. When an exporter wishes to export cargo (or technology; hereinafter the same) that requires a permit or approval under laws or regulations other than the Customs Act, the exporter must be able to prove to customs that these requirements have been met.

Government authorities

Which authorities handle the controls?

The Customs and Tariff Bureau of the MoF handles export customs clearance procedures, though permits and approvals for export of certain cargo are governed by other government agencies; the most important of these is the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act (Foreign Exchange Act), METI being the government agency responsible for permits and approvals for export of cargo under the Foreign Exchange Act.

Special controls

Are separate controls imposed on specific products? Is a licence required to export such products? Give details.

For security purposes, the Foreign Exchange Act controls the export of certain cargo using two methods: list control and catch-all control.

Specific cargo subject to export controls is designated in the Export Trade Control Order (Export Order) and the Foreign Exchange Order. List control requires exporters to obtain an export permit from METI if their export cargo is on the control list and falls within the specifications set out in the Ordinance of the Ministry Specifying Goods and Technologies Pursuant to Provisions of the Appended Table 1 of the Export Control Order and the Appended Table of the Foreign Exchange Order. Based on international export control regimes, the said list includes arms and other dual-use equipment that may be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Catch-all control is a system whereby exporters must obtain a permit from METI for their export cargo other than those included in the control list (excluding food and timbers etc) if notified by METI to apply for an export permit (inform requirement) or if it is judged, based on expected usage and the end user, that such cargo might be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Supply chain security

Has your jurisdiction implemented the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards? Does it have an AEO programme or similar?

In order to implement the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards, Japan amended the Customs Tariff Act and relevant laws in 2012 to introduce advance filing rules, which require shipping companies to submit information electronically to customs for maritime container cargo to be loaded on a vessel bound for a port in Japan at least 24 hours before departure of the vessel from the port of loading. In addition, the Customs and Tariff Bureau of the MoF implemented the authorised economic operator (AEO) programme, a system conforming with international standards. Under this programme, companies that have well-organised cargo security management and compliance systems are given the benefit of simple and reduced customs clearance procedures. Currently, Japan has signed mutual recognition of this AEO programme with 10 other countries and regions.

Applicable countries

Where is information on countries subject to export controls listed?

The catch-all control described in question 23 only applies to exports shipped to certain regions, and the Export Order exempts certain countries (‘white countries’) from the catch-all control. Some of the catch-all controls provide for various cases where prior permits are required for cargo exported to countries and regions subject to a UN arms embargo, as listed in the Export Order: www.meti.go.jp/policy/anpo/securityexportcontrol3.html.

For the purposes of national security and international cooperation etc, the Foreign Exchange Act requires exporters to obtain approval from METI for the export of cargos to certain regions. The destinations subject to this requirement are listed in the Export Order.

Named persons and institutions

Does your jurisdiction have a scheme restricting or banning exports to named persons and institutions abroad? Give details.

METI publishes an ‘End User List’, which lists foreign companies and organisations believed to be involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction, etc. The End User List is not an embargo list, though export to companies and organisations on the list requires a permit from METI unless it is clear that the export cargo is not to be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction based on the way in which the cargo will be used, the way in which the cargo is traded, the terms of the transaction and other factors.

The End User List (as of 26 April 2019) can be found at: www.meti.go.jp/policy/anpo/hp/190426_3.pdf.


What are the possible penalties for violation of export controls?

Customs Act
  • 10 years imprisonment with labour or a fine of not more than ¥30 million, or both for an individual;
  • forfeiture of the embargoed goods and non-permitted export goods; and
  • dual liability also applies.
Foreign Exchange Act
  • a fine of not more than ¥1 billion (in the case of a juridical person) and 10 years imprisonment with labour and/or a fine of not more than ¥30 million (in the case of an individual), if five times the price of the subject of the violation exceeds ¥1 billion (in the case of a juridical person), ¥30 million (in the case of an individual), the fine increases to not more than five times that price;
  • administrative sanction for banned export of cargos for a maximum of three years, and prohibition on taking office as an officer in charge of another company; and
  • dual liability also applies.