Data source
Date of text
26 Apr 2004
Country
Seat of court
Tokyo
Original language

English

Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
2003 (Gyo-Hi) No. 206
Court name
Supreme Court of Japan
Justice(s)
Tatsuo
Kazuko
Tokuji
Niro
Sources
InforMEA
Keywords
food quality control, food safety

This was a case brought by the appellant to seek revocation of the notice made by the appellee that 100kg of "Frozen Smoked Tuna Filet", which the appellant intended to import, was in violation of the Food Sanitation Law.
The appellant, with the intention of providing the food for sale, had submitted an import notification as prescribed by the Food Sanitation Law to the appellee. Consequential tests on the imported food detected a high amount of carbon monoxide in the food. Therefore, the director of the quarantine station gave notice to the appellant that according to the results of the inspection the food was in violation of the provisions of the Food Sanitation Law and therefore the food should be reshipped or destroyed.
The court had to decide whether the said notice fell under the category of administrative disposition against which an appeal could be filed. The lower court had previously decided that such notice given by the director of the quarantine station merely served as practical guidance on the action to be taken by the person who intended to import food, and therefore it was not legally binding to the Director-General of Customs. Consequently, the Notice did not have the legal effect of denying permission for import of the food and it did not fall under the category of administrative disposition against which a suit for revocation could be filed.
The Supreme Court emphasized that the notice of violation of the Food Sanitation Law was issued by the appellee, as entrusted by the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. Upon receiving the notice, the appellant could no longer prove to the Customs the “satisfaction of conditions" set forth in the Customs Law and, as a result, could not obtain permission for import. For this reason, it was appropriate to construe that the notice, which had the legal effect mentioned above, should fall under the category of dispositions for which a suit for revocation could be filed. Therefore, the Court found that the appellant’s argument was well-grounded.