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Revised legislation fails to prevent information leakage from Japanese companies

  • October 15, 2020
  • , Nikkei , p. 35
  • JMH Translation

Approximately 10 years ago, the Japanese government started to notice an increase in incidents where sensitive information was leaked overseas by employees of Japanese corporations. Alarmed by this, the government revised the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in 2015 to strengthen measures to discourage this. Under the revised law, individuals could be subject to fines of up to 20 million yen for leaking sensitive information to domestic companies and up to 30 million yen for leaking to foreign entities.


Nevertheless, sensitive information continues to flow overseas to this day. In June 2019, the Kyoto Prefectural Police arrested a former employee of the electronic parts manufacturer NISSHA on suspicion of removing sensitive information from the company. The man allegedly gave the information to a Chinese corporation where he was newly employed. In January 2021, Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested a former employee of Softbank, who had reportedly been leaking copies of documents concerning the company’s sensitive information at the request of a Russian diplomat.


In the U.S., engineers’ job descriptions specify the projects they can participate in and the information they are allowed to access, according to Naoto Koizuka, a chief researcher at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting. 


“We should utilize this kind of process to establish a system that makes it more difficult for employees to leak information. At the same time, companies should make it clear to employees which information is sensitive and which is not.” Koizuka also pointed out, “It is also essential for companies make efforts to improve working conditions and remuneration for their engineers.”

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