(Mainichi: December 11, 2015 – p. 2)
The National Police Agency (NPA) will establish a new office for investigating industrial espionage at prefectural police headquarters across the country, the NPA informed Mainichi. The new position is for investigating and supervising industrial espionage cases in preparation for the revised Unfair Competition Prevention Law, which is for preventing trade secrets from being divulged. Each prefectural police headquarters will assign one or more members to the new office by Jan. 1 when the revised law comes into force. The NPA aims to beef up measures for uncovering espionage cases by creating experts specialized in preventing the leakage of information.
According to the NPA, the name of the position is “Trade Secrets Protection Officer,” whose rank is either Chief Inspector or Superintendent. The assigned officers will supervise investigations and advise on consultations, as well as call for thorough control of trade secrets and early reports of damage.
In March 2012 police arrested a former Chinese employee of Yamazaki Mazak Corporation (in Aichi Prefecture), a major machine-tool company, for illegally obtaining classified information. There has been a succession of similar cases targeting Japan’s technology, which resulted in leakage of trade secrets to companies overseas. Under the circumstances, the revised Unfair Competition Prevention Law came into effect in July this year.
Under the revised law, the maximum fine was raised from 10 million yen to 30 million yen for individuals who steal trade secrets, and from 300 million yen to 1 billion yen for corporations. Attempted theft of trade secrets will also be punishable. Police can prosecute a case without the victim reporting damages.
According to the NPA, 11 cases of the leakage of trade secrets took place last year, involving 13 suspects. This includes the case of Benesse Corporation (in Okayama City) in which the personal data of customers was divulged. This year, police arrested a former board member of a subsidiary of Edion (in Osaka City), an electronics retail store, for illegally obtaining information on Edion after the suspect moved to a rival company.