We have finally mailed off the forms which will allow us to bring medicine into Japan, or the Yakkan Shōmei. It is sort of an import certificate which consists of three forms and took seemingly forever to fill out. It is only necessary to fill out the Yakkan Shōmei if you are bringing in more than a months worth of perscription medication, more than 2 months of non-perscription medication, or more than 4 months worth of vitamins. A couple of weeks ago when we were in the U.S., I stocked up on fairly ridiculous amounts of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and vitamins to last us a year or more, so I needed to fill out the Yakkan Shōmei. I normally like filling out forms and surveys, so it was mildly enjoyable at first, but by the time I got to the third form (Product Explanation Form 6) I was not having such a great time.
The product explanation form requires you to report the name of product, name of manufacturer, country of origin, all active and non active ingredients and the quantity of them contained in the product, what it is used for, and a complete description of what the medicine and the container it comes in looks like. This was fairly easy for the gigantic bottle of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but when it came to multivitamins it was agonizing. There are 30+ overly long ingredients in them and very quickly I was cursing the decision to buy separate men's and women's vitamins as well as infant and children's vitamins. I also ran into a mystery when trying to report the name of manufacturer and originating country of the vitamins and painkillers I bought in the U.S. Everything I bought in Canada stated the manufacturer and country in which it was made very clearly on the side of the packaging, but for the American medicine, there was absolutely none of this information. I called the 1-800 number on the side of the bottle thinking that it would be an easy 5 minute phone call, but 30 minutes, 2 different people, and a supervisor later I was informed that the information I requested was confidential and they couldn't disclose it to me. I was pretty incredulous that they were not required to give me that information and I really despise how these companies are so obsessed with covering themselves at all times. It makes me feel as though they are doing something illegal, like using powdered baby bones as a filler, or manufacturing them in sweat shops if they are not willing to be transparent about simple information. Dustin's theory was that they were afraid that I might find out my generic acetaminophen tablets were in fact made by the same pharmaceutical company that produces Tylenol and my generic vitamins were made by Centrum. I suppose the name brands might lose their edge if that was the case.
Ten pages and all of my patience later, I finally finished the product explanation form and we were able to mail the Yakkan Shōmei off to CLAIR(Council of Local Authorities for International Relations). I really hope that filling out the forms was the worst of the hassle and that I won't have to think about it again until we reach Japan!