The Japanese government has issued a series of guidelines covering the labelling of organic cotton products distributed and sold across the country.

The guidelines from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan have been issued in response to growing concerns that while organic cotton products are now widely available in Japan, the approaches towards labelling have been fraught with inconsistencies, leading to misunderstanding and confusion over in the production, distribution, and consumption of organic cotton products.

According to the guidelines, labels must now comply with the Household Goods Quality Labelling Act and should indicate the percentage of organic cotton content of the product as a whole if the product is labelled as organic cotton, or the percentage organic cotton content of the part concerned if parts of a product are labelled separately.

The rules also state that if a product is made partially from organic cotton, the label should state “Composite product made from xx% organic cotton”. More specifically, this means non-GM cotton produced without the use of agricultural chemicals or chemical fertilizers on land where such materials have not been used for around three or more years, and that have been officially certified as such.

It should be pointed out however, that no consideration has been given in the guidelines to the use of chemicals at the processing stage and it is therefore a fibre only standard. The guidelines also state that if a product is labelled an organic cotton product, the businesses involved in its production and distribution should ensure traceability. In order to raise the standard of information control, it is also recommended that those companies involved voluntarily undergo objective evaluation.

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