To anyone interested in purchasing a dog from a kennel in Japan, now or in the future, this update concerns you.
As of September 1st, 2013, the law governing the welfare and management of animals has had some bylaws added to it. While there are several very good points covered by the new regulations, there is one stickler that will affect you if you are looking to import.
In Japan, all commercial kennels (anyone selling dogs) are required to register with, and receive a permit from the local authorities in order to do business. This includes pet shops, breeders, pet hotels etc. The new bylaw that will affect imports, requires that the sale of a dog by commercial kennels must involve a face to face transaction, in which the seller verbally explains certain required information regarding the dog's breed and care, to the buyer. The information must also be in writing, and the seller must receive the buyer's signature stating that they have received the verbal explanation regarding the dog they are buying.
So, in order to abide by the law, every point of sale of a dog must be conducted face to face. This means you cannot have pictures sent to you, agree to buy the dog, and have it shipped over. Either you will need to come to Japan to meet the seller face to face, or the seller will have to take the dog to you and transfer ownership face to face.
The reality is that many of the NIPPO kennels are not registered, so are already conducting their business outside of the law. I also imagine that many of the kennels will continue to ship pups overseas without ever meeting the buyers. However, this is now the law of the land, and I've already heard of some people overseas being told that they will need to come to Japan to pick up dogs from now on.
This law does not affect me very much, since I am licensed, and as such can have dogs sent to me from other licensed kennels without having to do the face to face meeting (this is an exception to the rule for people with animal management licenses). The majority of the dogs I ship overseas are accompanied by me, or their new owners. But for anyone that was hoping to have a dog shipped to them unaccompanied (as cargo), from now on this will not be possible.
Already this past week I have had a couple from Finland fly over to pick up a pup, and a couple from the US as well. After all, it's cheaper than shipping the pup as cargo, and you get a bit of travel!
I see a lot more travel in my future...