Importing Gas

This article briefly explains laws and regulations concerning the import of gas into Japan.

1: General Information

The import and sale of gas is regulated by the Gas Business Law, the Law Concerning the Maintenance of Storage and Proper Trade of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (“Liquefied Petroleum Gas Law”), and the High Pressure Gas Safety Law. 

In general, when people talk about gas in their homes, the two most commonly used gases are city gas, which is made from natural liquefied gas (LNG), and propane gas (LP gas).  The former is provided through underground conduits, while the latter is essentially provided through gas cylinders.

The pipeline type is regulated by the Gas Business Law, while the gas cylinder type is regulated by the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Law (and the High Pressure Gas Safety Law) in most cases.

 

Natural gas

Propane gas (LP gas)

Main Use

City gas for household use

Thermal power generation

Natural gas station (truck)

Residential and commercial use

Industrial use

LP gas stations (cabs)

Ingredients

Methane is the main component, and natural gas (such as LNG) is the main raw material.

Mainly composed of propane and butane. Raw materials are imported mainly from the Middle East and produced domestically.

Characteristics

Lighter than air.

Becomes liquid when cooled to -162°C.

Heavier than air.

Becomes liquid when cooled to -42°C.

Supply method

Mainly through gas pipes

※Mostly in urban areas where gas pipes can be connected.

Mainly through gas cylinders

In addition, the High Pressure Gas Safety Act regulates oxygen gas, nitrogen gas, and other high-pressure gases for industrial use. Also, when storing or handling more than 300 kilograms of propane gas, a notification based on the Fire Service Act is required1.

2: Gas Business Law

1 About the Gas Business Law

The Gas Business Law regulates the gas retail business, gas pipeline business, gas manufacturing business, and gas supply sales and import business. 

The term “gas retail business” here refers to the business of supplying gas through “pipelines,” which basically means the “city gas” business. On the other hand, “propane gas” is mainly supplied through gas cylinders, and unless there are special circumstances in which it is provided through “pipelines,” it does not fall under the category of “gas retail business” here.  

In accordance with the Gas Business Law, registration is required for those operating a “gas retail business (Article 3 of the same law). In addition, those who operate a “gas pipeline business” are required to obtain a license (Article 35 of the same law) for a general gas pipeline business or a notification (Article 72 of the same law) for a specific gas pipeline business.

And for those who operate gas production business, notification is required (Article 86 of the same law). However, the “gas production business” refers to liquefied gas storage facilities with a total capacity of 200,000 kiloliters or more that are connected to “pipelines” used for the gas business (Article 2, Paragraph 9 of the Law, Article 5 of the Regulations), so it is understood that businesses that merely produce propane gas and fill cylinders do not fall under this category.

2 Import of Gas Equipment

Gas appliances regulated by the Gas Business Law refer to items (1) through (5) below. In each case, items for propane gas are not included.

 

Item

explanation

1

Gas instant-boiler

Limited to those with a gas consumption of 70 kilowatts or less.

2

Gas Heater

Limited to gas consumptions of 19 kilowatts or less.

3

Bath tub with gas burner

Limited to those with a gas consumption of 21 kilowatts (91 kilowatts for those with a dedicated hot water supply unit) or less.

4

Gas Burner for Bath tub

Limited to gas consumptions of 21 kilowatts or less.

5

Gas Stove

Limited to those with a total gas consumption of 14 kilowatts or less and a gas consumption of 5.8 kilowatts or less per stove burner (21 kilowatts in the case of those with gas ovens).

 

A person engaged in the business of manufacturing, importing or selling gas appliances shall not sell or display (Article 138 of the same law) 2 for sale gas appliances unless they bear the PSTG Mark3.

Therefore, manufacturers or importers of Gas Equipment are required to submit a notification (Article 140 of the same law), inspect the Gas Equipment they intend to handle to ensure that it complies with the standards for Gas Equipment (Appendix 3 of the Ministerial Ordinance on Technical Standards for Gas Equipment), and affix the PSTG Mark.

 

Product Type

Inspection

 

Specific gas supplies

l   Semi-closed combustion gas instant water heater

l   Semi-hermetic gas stove

l   Semi-hermetic combustion

l   bath tub with gas burner

l   gas burner for hot tub

It is necessary to pass a conformity inspection by a registered inspection body. Self-inspection is insufficient.

 

Registered inspection organization

Japan Gas Appliance Inspection Association

 

 

 

 

Others

l   Open-burning, closed-burning, or outdoor gas instantaneous water heaters

l   Open-burning, closed-burning, or open-air gas stoves

l   Closed-burning or open-air stoves with gas burners

l   Gas stoves

It is necessary to pass a conformity inspection, but voluntary inspection is also acceptable.

 

Prepared with reference to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry website.

3: Law Concerning Maintenance of Storage and Proper Trade of Liquefied Petroleum Gas

1 General Information

The “Act on Securing the Storage of and Proper Trade in Liquefied Petroleum Gas” regulates the business of selling liquefied petroleum gas, or LP gas (Liquified Petroleum Gas).

The scope of the “liquefied petroleum gas sales business” excludes the “gas retail business” and “general gas pipeline business” regulated by the Gas Business Law, so businesses “other than pipeline type” are assumed here. In short, “gas cylinder type” businesses are assumed here.

2 Obligations of Liquefied Petroleum Distributors

The law requires registration (Article 3) of “liquefied petroleum gas distributors,” and stipulates that these distributors are obligated to deliver documents at the time of contract (Article 14), have a chief engineer, comply with standards for storage facilities (Article 16), and provide safety services (Article 27).

In addition, the Law prohibits the sale of liquefied petroleum gas that does not conform to the standards set by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which must be observed (Article 13 of the Law, Article 12 of the Regulations).

And the distributor is required to obtain a license for each storage facility or specified supply facility (Article 36 of the Law).

In addition to the above, the security equipment to be installed (gas detectors, automatic transmission equipment for gas shutdown, and gas supply shutdown equipment) must basically use equipment that has been certified (Article 35-6).

For more information, the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan’s “LP Gas Sales Business Guide” is easy to understand.

3 Manufacturers and importers of liquefied petroleum gas appliances

Liquefied petroleum gas appliances” cannot be sold in Japan without the PSLPG mark4.

Therefore, if a manufacturer or importer of liquefied petroleum gas appliances intends to sell liquefied petroleum gas appliances in Japan, it is necessary to notify the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to that effect and have the appliances inspected for compliance with the standards (Appendix 3 of the “Ministerial Ordinance Concerning Technical Standards for Liquefied Petroleum Gas Appliances”) before affixing the PSLPG mark (Article 41, Article 46 of the same law).  In particular, in the case of “specified liquefied petroleum gas appliances” (see the following table)”, it is not sufficient to conduct a voluntary inspection, but must first undergo an inspection by a registered inspection agency (Article 47 of the Law).

 

 

Product Type

Inspection

Indication

Specific liquefied petroleum gas appliances

l   Semi-hermetic instantaneous water heater

l   Semi-hermetic stoves

l   Semi-hermetic stove with burner

l   Burner for bath tub

l   Cartridge gas stove

l   Bath tub with burner

Inspection by a registered inspection agency is required. Self-inspection is insufficient.

 

Registered Inspection Body

Japan Gas Appliance Inspection Association

 

Gas tap

Registered Inspection Body: Japan Gas Appliance Inspection Association

Japan Gas Appliance Inspection Association

Japan LPG Appliance Inspection Association

 

Other Petroleum appliances

Open, sealed, and outdoor instantaneous water heaters, open, sealed, and outdoor stoves, sealed and outdoor stoves with burners, general gas stoves

Inspection is required, but voluntary inspection is also acceptable.

 

Inspection organization:

Japan Gas Appliance Inspection Association, or in-house inspection is also acceptable.

 

Regulator, high pressure hose, low pressure hose, automatic gas shutoff against earthquake

Inspection organization:

Japan LPG Appliance Inspection Association or inhouse inspections

 

 

Gas leak sensor

Inspection organization:

High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan, or in-house inspection

Prepared with reference to the website of the Kanto Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

4: High Pressure Gas Safety Act

1 About the High-Pressure Gas Safety Act

Because of the potential for explosions, the High-Pressure Gas Safety Act regulates the manufacture, storage, sale, import, transfer, consumption, and disposal of high pressure gas.

2 Definition of high-pressure gas

The definition of “high pressure gas” is as follows: 1) compressed gas with a pressure of 1.0 MPa or higher5, and 2) liquefied gas with a pressure of 0.2 MPa or higher.

Even though helium and other gases in ordinary spray cans and balloons have a slightly higher pressure, they do not fall under the category of “high-pressure gas. Medical gases (oxygen) and industrial gases (acetylene, LP gas6) that are compressed under higher pressure fall under the category of high-pressure gases.

3 Manufacturing

A person who intends to manufacture high pressure gas using facilities where the volume of gas that can be manufactured (processed) is equal to or greater than the following standard values shall obtain a license as a Class 1 manufacturer (Article 3 of the same law).

Class 1 gases (helium/neon/argon/krypton/xenon/radon/ nitrogen/carbon dioxide/fluorocarbon/air)

300 sq. meters per day

Others

100 sq. meters per day

 All other manufacturers are required to submit a Class II manufacturer’s notification (Article 5, Paragraph 2 of the same law).

4 Importation of High-Pressure Gas

A person who has imported high pressure gas and its container shall not move it unless it has undergone an import inspection conducted by the prefectural governor and has been found to comply with the technical standards for import inspection (Article 22 of the same law).  However, there are certain exceptions7, such as when the product has passed an inspection by the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan or a designated import inspection organization and a notification has been submitted.

The technical standards for import inspection are to pass the content verification test and the safety level test for containers (Article 45-3 of the General High Pressure Gas Safety Regulations, Article 45-3 of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Regulations, Article 31-3 of the Refrigeration Safety Regulations).

For detailed information, please refer to the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the website of the High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan (Guide to High Pressure Gas Import Inspection, etc.).

5 Importation of Containers for High Pressure Gas

A person who has manufactured or imported a container for filling with high pressure gas shall not transfer or deliver the container unless it has undergone the prescribed inspection of the container by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, the High Pressure Gas Association of Japan, or a person designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and has been stamped or marked as having passed the inspection (Article 44, Paragraph 1 of the same law)8.

6 Storage, Sales, and Transfer

A permit or notification is required for the storage of a large quantity of high pressure gas (Article 16 and 17-2), a notification is required for the sale or consumption of a large quantity (Article 20-4 and Article 24-2), and necessary measures for safety shall be taken when moving the gas (Article 23).

1 Article 9-3 of the same law and Article 1-10, Paragraph 1, Item 3 of the Cabinet Order on the Control of Dangerous Goods.
2 PSTG stands for “Product Safety of Town Gas Equipment and Appliances”.
3 However, there are certain exceptions, such as when the approval of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry is obtained.
4 PSLPG stands for ”Product Safety of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Equipment and Appliances”.
5 As for acetylene gas, a pressure of 0.2 MPa or higher falls under the category of high-pressure gas.
6 Liquefied petroleum gas (LP gas) is regulated by the High Pressure Gas Safety Act when used primarily for industrial purposes, and by the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Act when used primarily in homes.
7 See the proviso of the same article, Article 46 of the General High Pressure Gas Safety Regulations, and Article 45-4 of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Regulations.
8 For exceptions, see Article 44(2) of the Act and Article 5 of the Container Regulations.