The Japanese government regulates the cosmetics industry through its Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare according to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law (Law No. 145) established August 10, 1960. Japan maintains a list of prohibited ingredients, a list of restricted ingredients, a positive list of UV filters and a positive list of preservatives.
Other than these restrictions, the burden of ensuring product safety has been shifted to cosmetic manufacturers. As such, any ingredient that can be shown to be safe may be used in a cosmetic product. Since 2001 Japanese cosmetics companies are required only to provide notification of the product's brand prior to manufacturing or importing.
"Japanese consumers have a high demand for cosmetics. Consumers can obtain much information about cosmetics through female and fashion magazines, the Internet, television commercials, newspapers, and other media. Consequently, they are very discerning about their selection of cosmetics. In the cosmetics market, consumers range from low-price-oriented young women to middle-aged/older women seeking high functionality and high-value-added commodities. For this reason, overseas cosmetics manufacturers are considered to have many opportunities to enter the Japanese market. . . The safety of cosmetics in Japan is ensured by the Product Liability Act (PL Act). If it can be demonstrated that a defect in a product is harmful to humans, their bodies or assets, the manufacturers' liabilities for damage will be defined to protect victims under the Act. As importers must assume the liability for damage caused by imported articles, it is necessary to pay careful attention to quality control, instruction manuals, and cautions." March 2011 (See entire text of this report from the Japanese External Trade Organization: Guidebook for Export to Japan: Cosmetics 2011)