Image for Japan Regulations for PMU Procedures are Becoming “Medical Only”

Japan Regulations for PMU Procedures are Becoming “Medical Only”

February 19, 2021

Yesterday, we received a disturbing letter from a Japanese PMU Society seeking support with regards to new laws in Japan restricting who can perform permanent makeup procedures in Japan. The changes were introduced last March.

The report stated that the Japanese Health Ministry established a policy that, to perform permanent makeup, microblading, tattoo, and piercing in Japan you will need to have a medical licence. 

Many PMU artists in Japan were arrested and over 10,000 women lost their jobs.  The arrests also included suppliers.  The Health Minister stated that the tools used to perform these procedures are considered medical tools or equipment.  Suppliers must therefore hold special certifications and can sell pigments and equipment to doctors only.

The Health Minister concluded that PMU is a medical procedure based on an old Medical Law that was introduced in 1949 towards the end of World War II. However, three years later this ruling was overturned base on the position that neither doctors nor nurses are trained in makeup or PMU techniques. 

While the current notification requires that PMU practitioners have a doctor’s licence is not considered as LAW. The courts still issue arrest warrants executed by the police and this is given out if the procedure is performed by a non-medical PMU artist. 

The current position is that PMU is considered as “cosmetic surgery” and the Japanese media continues to publish information on this position and displays names and photos of offenders. 

Meanwhile, doctors who are currently delivering these procedures are utilising the services of nurses who operate under their jurisdiction.
The Japanese PMU Society has reached out to several countries and received letters of support.  They have also received the support of the PMU East-European Conference leaders and representatives.

The report stated that currently, most who perform Medical PMU procedures are female nurses, working in male-dominated medical clinics.  Under this structure, the fees for these procedures are much higher, compared with other countries. 

The Japanese PMU Society has requested our official support in putting forward a position statement to appeal and challenge this ruling. 

Their concern is also that as the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare is working closely with the medical community, other beauty modalities will continue to be re-defined as “medical procedures” and transferred to be delivered in a medical clinic only, stripping the permission of many women from performing the treatments they love. 

I have also been informed that the same ruling applied in Saudi Arabia.


There is no doubt that over the past decade cosmetic medicine is experiencing incredible expansion.  Progressively, more skin treatments, not just injectables, are performed in these clinics.  Skincare and even regular maintenance facial treatments, such as microdermabrasion, LED treatments, IPL, and laser service are also progressively being delivered in cosmetic medical clinics.

You could say that we are facing a “turf war” for territory. 

It only takes a major trauma or death for a regulation to be signed off across to medical practitioners.  So, what is the only saving grace against that risk?

The best way to protect your future is through recognised qualifications and endorsed industry standards.  If an industry’s practitioners can demonstrate that they are qualified (not just trained-well), and they adhere to independent industry standards, this is the strongest protective mechanism against their modality being taken from them.

Cosmetic tattooing is currently being removed as a Unit of Competency from the Level 5 Diploma of Beauty Therapy and redesigned as a stand-alone Diploma Qualification. This process is in its final stages of drafting. 

Existing cosmetic tattooists who do not have a government-approved qualification can undergo an RPL process through an RTO and gain formal credentials.

Friends, we are moving towards an era where credentials and safety measures will need to be validated so that industry bodies can fight for your rights.

Don’t take risks, whenever possible seek and gain government-approved qualifications for the modalities who are seeking to introduce or are performing, join a professional industry body to represent you, and stay informed of critical information that will secure your future

If you need further advice, please feel free to contact APAN

07 55930360.

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