The Japan Advertising Review Organization (JARO) is a self-regulatory body of advertising. As its primary role, the Organization handles complaints and inquiries from consumers, competitors and other sectors.
The JARO was formed in 1974 when Japan was in the midst of a dramatic hike in production and consumption, a wide proliferation of marketing/advertising techniques and a huge wave of consumerism. In the marketplace, there had been a series of scandals relating to the deceptive labeling of food contents and a recurring competition of offering premiums of allegedly excessive value targeted to consumers.
Since no consumer complaint-handling mechanism had yet been established in the private sector, complaints flooded government agencies or consumer groups. The complaints brought to the former emerged later in the form of laws and regulations and those brought to the latter ended up as hostile actions and slogans against businesses and their advertising.
With the wind blowing wild against the advertising industry, a succession of consumer-oriented regulations became effective. Among others, the following rules were vital to the industry:
- Act Against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations; and
- Consumer Protection Fundamental Act.
In addition, an impressive recommendation to the ad industry was issued by the Advisory Council of Industrial Structures, a government-commissioned panel made up by experts, which had prepared a series of advice addressed to the government and the various industries. Their recommendation suggested that the industry should look into the codes of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the Chamber of Commerce in the United States to enhance disciplinary business activities.
In recognition of the need to develop and maintain its self-regulatory system, the ad industry organized a fact-finding mission and dispatched it to the BBB. After duly considering the report compiled thereafter by members of the mission, the Japan Advertising Federation (JAF) established an acting committee to discuss how to build and operate a voluntary regulatory system. The activities of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the United Kingdom and the Bureau de Verification de la Publicite (BVP) in France were also researched.
After many years of discussions by industry's representatives, particularly about finance, management and public relations, as well as about a name, JARO at last launched in 1974 under the auspices of the whole ad industry, including:
- Japan Advertisers Association (JAA);
- Japan Newspaper Association (JNA);
- National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan (NAB);
- Magazine Advertising Association (MAA);
- Japan Advertising Agencies Association (JAAA); and
- Japan Advertising Federation (JAF).
The first General Assembly of JARO was held on August 28 that year with more than 300 attendees representing the initial 110 member companies and 150 organizations which supported the formation of JARO directly or indirectly. Through next year, the membership grew in number to 327 companies, during the first decade to 706, and as of the end of the fiscal year 2012 to 868.