Japan adequacy plan to boost EU-Japan data flow

Japan adequacy plan
© iStock/studiocasper

The European Commission yesterday adopted its adequacy plan on Japan, allowing the free, secure flow of personal data between the two economies.

The procedure of implementing data adequacy between Japan and the EU began in September 2018, with input from the European Data Protection Board and a committee of EU Member State representatives. The Commission’s data adequacy decision and its Japanese equivalent, which complement the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement due to come into force in February 2019, began to apply yesterday; the plan will be reviewed in 2021 and every four years afterwards to assess its functionality.

A joint statement by Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová and Commissioner of the Personal Information Protection Commission of Japan Haruhi Kumazawa said: “These mutual adequacy findings create the world’s largest area of safe data transfers. They build on the high degree of convergence between the two systems, which rest notably on an overarching privacy law, a core set of individual rights and enforcement by an independent data protection authority. As data privacy and security have become a central factor of consumer trust, it is this type of convergence, based on strong laws and robust enforcement, that can ensure the sustainability of our increasingly data driven-economy and facilitate commercial flows.”

As part of the EU-Japan adequacy plan, substantial data safeguards are to be put into place to guarantee a level of data protection consistent with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. The safeguards include:

  • A set of Supplementary Rules to cover discrepancies between the two data protection systems over the protection of sensitive data and the exercise of individual rights, among others;
  • Assurances from the Japanese government that Japanese public bodies would only be permitted to access personal data where the use is proportionate and necessary for law enforcement or national security purposes; and
  • A complaints mechanism administered by Japan’s independent data protection authority, to investigate complaints by EU residents regarding access to their data by Japanese public authorities.

The joint statement from Commissioners Jourová and Kumazawa added: “The citizens of the EU and Japan will now enjoy solid protections of their personal data when transferred, while all their companies will benefit from free data transfers to each other’s economies. In this way, today’s decisions complement and enhance the benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreement and contribute to the strategic partnership between the EU and Japan. With this mutual adequacy arrangement, the EU and Japan reaffirm their commitment to shared values in the field of privacy, and to strengthen their cooperation in shaping global standards based on a high level of protection of personal data.”

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