updated 10:05 am EDT, Thu August 16, 2007
Japan Notebook Safety
Japan's government is developing a notebook battery safety standard that could create a ripple effect for computer designers worldwide, according to sources speaking with Kyodo News. The wire service claims that an upcoming law could require that all manufacturers of notebook batteries in the country prove their designs will not catch fire, even when subjected to accidental conditions such as a sudden drop or production defects that introduce potentially volatile metal flakes into the batteries. Such strict measures would be necessary as a single fire could result in a far more serious accident, the government has reportedly argued in drafting the law.
The regulations would allegedly be completed by the fall and would be submitted by March 31st, giving most companies until the start of their new fiscal years to implement the new standard in their product lines. The safety standards for notebook batteries would be part of a larger bill meant to improve consumer products as a whole but could be proposed as the basis of laws in other countries, the source said.
Should it prove true, a Japan-only law would still be likely to have a significant impact on notebook designers in other countries, as many contract out their battery manufacturing to Japanese companies and would be subject to the new standards. A global Sony recall last year affected over 9.6 million lithium-ion devices, many of which were built into systems from American companies such as Apple and Dell in addition to American versions of Japanese notebooks. The Japanese government first became involved in August 2006 when it ordered an investigation by Dell and Sony into the malfunctions that were triggering battery fires, some of which caused incidental property damage in addition to destroying notebooks themselves.