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The Largest and Most Prominent Standards Development Organization in Japan

by Hiroo Wakai

In its more than 55-year history, the Japanese Standards Association has grown to meet the needs of Japanese industry. Now, in the global economy, JSA is reaching out to work with all nations in creating a better world through standards.

The Japanese Standards Association (JSA) was founded in 1945. Since then, JSA has carried out its activities with a view to encouraging the development of Japanese industry and economy, raising the national standard of living and promoting national welfare. Our mission is to develop and promote standardization and the unification of standards in order to contribute to technological innovation, improve production efficiency and heighten the quality of living. For a summary of JSA’s many projects, see the sidebar.

New Mandates

Nowadays, areas reflecting social needs such as consumer protection, welfare for the aged and people with disabilities, and environmental protection are given high priority in standards development in Japan. One example of this stream is “promotion of the basic principle of universal design.” The concept of “universal design” is that products and environments should be designed so that all people including the elderly and people with disabilities can use them with ease. In order to realize this concept, the Japanese Industrial Standard Committee (JISC) set up an Ad Hoc Committee on Standardization for the Elderly and People with Disabilities in 1998. The ad hoc committee discussed what standardization policy is needed for this purpose and produced a report giving policy recommendations for standardization. Based on these recommendations, JSA is currently developing various standards in this field.

JSA’s Management Systems Enhancement Department is accredited as a registration body that assesses and registers organizations to the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 series of standards. This Department is the third-largest accreditation body in Japan, having a total of around 300 auditors. Our Japanese Registration of Certified Auditors (JRCA) registers 8,000 of those individuals who meet qualification criteria to conduct quality management system audits (ISO 9000). Last year, JRCA joined the Mutual Recognition Agreements Group of International Auditors and Training Certification Association. In addition to these activities, the Association also carries out notified inspections as an accredited body in the JIS Mark system.

Help for Developing Countries

The introduction and promotion of industrial standardization is indispensable for making progress in industrialization and for expanding trade, both of which facilitate economic development. Many developing countries are interested in Japan’s system of promoting industrial standardization as a means to help support its industry in becoming internationally competitive. In recent years, there have been increasing requests by these countries, such as China, Korea, Russia, and countries located in South East Asia, for technical cooperation from Japan related to industrial standardization and quality control.

In order to provide technical assistance to developing countries overseas, JSA carries out surveys, holds seminars, and accepts trainees. These efforts, which relate to industrial standardization and quality management, are commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship, and the UN Industrial Development Organization.

International Standards Development

JSA actively participates in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to develop international standards and supports the activities of these international standardizing bodies, both directly and indirectly. JSA sends representatives to serve on top level committees in these organizations (Mr. Aoki, vice chair of ISO; Mr. Saito, Technical Management Board member) and provides financial assistance including travel and participation fees for attending meetings, as well as financial and other support to other organizations involved in deliberating draft international standards. In total, JSA provides financial support to more than 300 representatives per year.

JSA is actively involved in developing international standards and provides secretaries for some of the ISO and IEC technical committees and subcommittees for which JISC, the ISO and IEC member body for Japan, holds the secretariat:

• ISO/TC 164 on Mechanical testing of metals;
• ISO/TC 201 on Surface chemical analysis;
• ISO/TC 69/SC6 on Measurement methods and results;
• ISO/TC 201/SC4 on Depth profiling;
• ISO/TC201/SC6 on Secondary ion mass spectroscopy; and
• ISO/TC 201/SC8 on Glow discharge spectroscopy, and
• IEC/TC3/SC3C on Graphical Symbols for use on equipment.

To develop international standards in these fields, the Association also participates in deliberations taking place in technical committees such as:

• ISO/TC10 on Technical drawings, product definition and related documentation;
• ISO/TC12 on Quantities, units, symbols, conversion factors;
• ISO/TC37 on Terminology (principles and coordination);
• ISO/TC69 on Applications of statistical methods;
• ISO/TC145 on Graphical Symbols;
• ISO/TC176 on Quality management and quality assurance;
• ISO/TC207 on Environmental management;
• ISO/TC213 on Dimensional and geometrical product specifications and verification;
• IEC/TC1 on Terminology;
• IEC/TC3 on Documentation and graphical symbols; and
• IEC/TC56 on Dependability.

The International Standardization Forum and IEC Activities Promotion Committee established within JSA publish the International Standardization Information and IEC APC News, as well as various other promotional materials on international standardization.


JSA also took part in the national “three-year plan for the alignment of standards” initiated by JISC in 1995 for the alignment of Japanese Industrial Standards with their respective international standards. This project was implemented as part of the “Deregulation Action Program” that was formulated by Japan in March 1995. This program was based on the WTO (World Trade Organization)/TBT (Technical Barriers to Trade) Agreement, which came into force in January 1995. Its overall aim was to promote the reduction of trade barriers.

At the beginning of the three-year plan in 1995, approximately 3,000 JIS out of 8,000 in total were identified as having corresponding International Standards and about 1,700 JIS out of these 3,000 were targeted for alignment. The alignment work for these 1,700 standards was carried out based on former Guide 21/Guide 3 with certain modifications. The Japanese Industrial Standards Committee, with the cooperation of JSA and other national committees began the intense work of aligning the standards. The work required the use of extensive human and capital resources but was completed on schedule.

Ensuring Relevance

Through this process it became clear that there were problems with some of the international standards.

• Some international standards were only applicable to particular regions, and did not reflect the global marketplace.
• Some international standards were technologically out of date, and did not meet with the current technological standards.
• Some international standards posed issues in terms of safety and the environment.
• The standards system behind some international standards was defective and the standards were difficult to use.

For this reason, the “Development of Market-Relevant International Standards Project” was set up by JISC in 1998. The implementation of the project was assigned to JSA by JISC and we in turn contracted out the project to 32 different private sector associations.

Under the general guidance of JSA, these private associations undertook activities such as the preparation of revised international standards proposals, experiments to compare JIS and the related international standard, and practical case studies of the use of these international standards in each of the major countries. They also took part in international meetings in order to submit the international proposals developed based on the aforementioned projects.

Table 1 gives a few examples of the proposals on representative case studies out of the more than 200 topics covered by the market relevance project.

Following the above projects, an on-going project entitled "Cooperation for Developing International Standards" was set up in 1997 by JISC. The objectives of the project are to actively develop international standards that can be adopted nationally by each member country and are applicable to the global market, as well as to encourage the submission of international standards proposals from Asian Pacific countries. The project now promotes a total of six fields: Multilingual Information Technology, Laser Welding and Cutting, Pressure Vessels, Construction Materials, Depth Profiling of the Next Generation Semi-Conductor Devices, and Concrete Machinery.

JSA’s Future

In conjunction with these activities, JSA has started the project of “Education and Training Courses in the Field of International Standardization” to provide those working in standardization-related organizations in Japan with the necessary knowledge and know-how regarding international standardization activities.

The Association is also implementing research projects concerning the market relevance of international standards, research on know- how for international proposals and research into economic effectiveness concerning international standards alignment, in order to actively promote their market relevance project.

As a result of the projects outlined above, JSA is proud of the fact that the number of new work item proposals to ISO and IEC from Japan has doubled in the last two years, with 80 new items and revisions presented in 2000. Since its establishment just over 50 years ago, JSA has continued to support Japan’s national and international standardization policies through the implementation of a diverse number of projects designed to increase awareness and technical knowledge of standardization. We pledge to continue this support by actively implementing projects that are designed to promote Japan’s standardization policies both now and in the future, particularly in terms of its cooperation with fellow standardization bodies in Europe, across Asia and of course in the United States, the leaders in standardization. //

Copyright 2001, ASTM

Hiroo Wakai is the executive director of the Japanese Standards Association. Before joining JSA, Wakai worked for the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Japan External Trade Organization, the Export/Import Bank of Japan, the United Nations Ozone Fund, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He joined JSA in July 2000.

JSA: An Overview

In addition to its head office located in Tokyo, JSA has seven branches located throughout Japan. The Association employs more than 200 staff and works in collaboration with more than 500 national technical committees (Japanese TC/SC) for Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) and ISO/IEC development to achieve its mission.

In an effort to promote the development and dissemination of know-how on standardization and quality control, JSA develops around 500 draft JIS annually, either on its own or in cooperation with national technical committees and subcommittees. JSA develops draft JIS on technical drawing tolerance, units, sampling, inspection, and quality assurance models in the basic and common fields; on graphic image processing, multimedia and information exchange codes in the IT field; on terminology for biological engineering and membranes in the biotechnology fields; and on standards in the environmenta management field. JSA also commissions work to develop draft JIS in highly technical fields to related industrial organizations.

JSA also publishes and distributes JIS and provides access to internationally recognized standards such as those of ISO, IEC, and national standards such as those of the American National Standards Institute, the British Standards Institution, France’s Association Française de Normalisation, Germany’s Deutsches Institut für Normung, and other SDOs such as ASTM and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The Association sponsors lectures and seminars on Standardization Technology and Management Techniques; provides technical consulting services on education and training in companies and supports companies to apply to become certified to use the JIS Mark and in building a quality and/or environmental management system.