According to the latest EPIDOS News published today on the EPO website Japan adopted a new utility models law in April of this year. According to the report, the new law extends the term from 6 to 10 years, reduces the renewal fee for the first to third and fourth to sixth years but introduces a new fee for each year of the extended term and permits applications for utility models to be converted into patent applications.
I was unable to find anything in English about the new law on the Japan Patent Office website but it may be that I was not looking in the right place. EPIDOS announces that the new law will be discussed at the "Far East meets West" conference in Vienna on 24 and 25 Nov 2005.
My other post on utility models is "More on Utility Models" on 5 Oct 2005.