GS1 Japan was founded in 1972 mainly through the efforts of the then Ministry of International Trade and Industry (present Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry or METI) as the Distribution System Research Institute (DSRI), a non-profit organisation for promoting the introduction of distribution systems, and have been striving for rationalising and increasing the efficiency of supply chains. As the first mission, we conducted studies on the standardisation of national product codes for apparel and grocery. We started to endeavour structuring the system of standard product codes and symbols for Japanese industries with studying and incorporating those systems already standardised in both Europe and the U.S. Then in 1978, we had been accepted as an EAN Association member as the first outside European member.

In the second half of the 1970s, GS1 Japan paved a way to adopt EAN system in Japan, starting with the introduction of EAN symbols into the Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS). Source marking feasibility had been tested obtaining cooperation from Kikkoman Corporation (a soy sauce manufacturer), Coca-Cola (Japan) Company, Limited, and Kai Corporation (a cutlery manufacturer), while retailers had begun to conduct storefront practical demonstration experiments of POS system. In the 1980s, Jusco Co., Ltd. (present AEON Co., Ltd.), Co-op supermarket stores and other retailers conducted pilots on the POS system. GS1 Japan held many seminars on EAN system and POS system throughout Japan and encouraged stakeholders to adopt source marking.

One of the most remarkable milestones for expanding the source marking usage was the fact that, in 1982, SEVEN-ELEVEN JAPAN CO.,LTD., a leading convenience store chain, had adopted POS system at all of its stores (1,650 stores, which increased to about 20,900 in 2019). Another remarkable contribution to POS system usage expansion was the consumption tax introduction in 1989. As the next step, GS1 Japan had set up study groups for selected industries in 1980s, for the purpose of studying business process improvement together with the industry members. Those processed foods, sporting goods, consumer electronics, and books and magazines industry members had positively participated in the study groups. One of the study groups, wholesalers’ study group, was set up under the leadership of representatives from various industries. These study groups soon came to cooperate in the adoption of EAN standards.

Needless to mention, share is coming after identify and capture.

GS1 Japan had started the Japan Item Code File Service (JICFS) service in the middle of 1980s, which contains cleaned and proofed product data, and which is worthwhile utilising for POS data collection and provision.

During the 1990s, GS1 Japan studied product codes, EDI messages and other subjects in cooperation with the apparel industry under METI-funded study of quick response (QR) system. Retailers used to assign their proprietary code to apparel products. We, together with apparel industry members, studied the way of realising EAN source marking to apparel products, and which brought about the successful result. It was also a notable accomplishment that the GS1-128 was employed for the labelling of wooden crates, containing various products, delivered to department stores. JEDICOS (Japan EDI for Commerce Systems), one of the Japanese EDI message standards, development was accomplished, which had been developed on the basis of EANCOM to meet with Japanese business practices.

In the 2000s a new business model was established in Japan in which convenience stores acted as agencies for receiving public utility payments from customers. As the tool for realising this service, the GS1-128 was adopted on the bills for the public utility charges. And the meat industry decided to adopt the GS1- 128 for its standard labels for traceability. The identification needs are not only for the physical objects but also for non-physical products.

In the second half of the 2000s, GTIN had been employed to identify non-physical music streaming services, and online and mail-order companies started using GTIN for those identifications and management.


In the period between 2003 and 2009, we had been supporting METI's RFID pilot projects for the purpose of finding and solving issues in conducting introduction of RFIDs into various industries (apparel, footwear, books, home appliances, international logistics, etc.), and then these efforts took us to have built the foundation for the promotion of RFID utilisation.

In 2004, we established EPCglobal Japan and actively worked for developing industries' awareness of EPC/RFID.

Since then, we have been committed to promote GS1 EPC/RFID standards in Japan.


In 2009, GS1 Healthcare Japan was established as a voluntary group for promoting GS1 Standards in healthcare sector. We are confident that all the continuous efforts including issuing guidelines which illustrate how GS1 systems can be applied to medical device management, and all other pioneering efforts, which had been conducted together with the healthcare industry stakeholders since the late 1990s, had led us to set up the GS1 Healthcare Japan.

New developments

In the area of EDI, GS1 Japan created an XMLformat EDI standard (Ryutsu BMS) for supporting domestic business practices and has worked to spread the standard together with 49 trade organisations. There have been new developments in several recent years. As public interest in food safety has increased, GS1 Japan started a joint study with Japanese supermarkets and supply chain stakeholders on the use of GS1 DataBar including pilot testing of the symbol with discounted price or sell- by-hour information at retail stores.

In 2015, GS1 Japan launched the program 'GS1 Japan Partners', aiming to share information and best practices among solution providers.

In 2017, GS1 Japan hosted GS1 Asia Pacific Regional Forum in Tokyo where more than 80 people attended from GS1 GO and 18 AP MOs.