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An example of dispute resolution for consumers: Hiroshima Municipal Committee for Mediation of Consumer Affairs Disputes
Mediation between consumers and businesses is typical in alternative dispute resolution (ADR). On the one hand, caseloads in the ADR program of the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (JCIJ) have increased nationwide during this decade. On the other hand, mediation programs for consumers provided by local governments are struggling with their poor caseloads. This study analyzes an example of Hiroshima City’s ADR program. Like other major cities’ programs, the Hiroshima Municipal Consumer Affairs Center receives many inquiries or complaints from consumers. Most of these complaints are informally conciliated by a consumer counselor; however, 10% are not resolved. To settle these important and difficult unresolved cases, the Hiroshima Municipal Committee for Mediation of Consumer Affairs Dispute have their own mediation program. Nevertheless, no cases have been filed to this committee in this decade. The reason why the committee’s caseloads are poor is because it is assumed that the committee receives only important disputes. For that kind of case, however, JCIJ’s ADR is preferable to local programs. The committee still has the role of managing regional ADR and works as an institution for screening the city’s own legal aid for consumers who file a lawsuit against a business.