Japanese industry organization the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ) has set Jan. 1, 2005, as the target date for the introduction of a new trade law giving Japanese labels the right to ban imp

Japanese industry organization the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ) has set Jan. 1, 2005, as the target date for the introduction of a new trade law giving Japanese labels the right to ban imports of Japanese repertoire licensed to overseas labels.

The RIAJ says a total of 4.65 million Japanese-repertoire CD units were sold in Asia outside of Japan in 2002, and 680,000 of those CDs were imported back into Japan to compete with higher-priced domestic products.

"If we expand our licenses to meet local demand, and start to sell aggressively abroad, we could be selling as many as 16.23 million units in Asia by 2007 and facing a projected 2.44 million 're-entry' records," the RIAJ predicts in a statement, adding that by 2012, those numbers could rise to 70.19 million and 12.65 million, respectively.

To support the import-law campaign, the RIAJ also illustrates the crux of the problem: the large differences between prices of recorded music in Japan and prices in other parts of Asia.

In South Korea, for example, CD albums sell for the equivalent of ¥1,200 to ¥1,600 ($11.35-$15.14), whereas in Japan they are priced between ¥2,500 and ¥3,000 ($23.65-$28.38), the RIAJ says.

The contrast with China is even more acute. Legitimate CD albums sell for between ¥550 and ¥850 ($5.20-$8.04), while pirate product is priced even lower.

The RIAJ points out that 62 other territories have import-control legislation, but none has a fixed-price system, also known as "saihan," as Japan does.

Defending the controversial "saihan" system, the RIAJ says CD prices in Japan are at roughly the same level as in France and Britain, while they are some 20% higher than those in the U.S., owing to "the vast difference in market size (between Japan and the U.S.). Therefore ... prices in Japan cannot be said to be too high at all," the RIAJ states.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print