​Japan and EU clinch data-adequacy deal, aim to ready implementation by autumn

18 July 2018 9:34am

17 July 2018. By Toko Sekiguchi

Japan and the EU have agreed a data-transfer deal, the two sides announced today, paving the way for an eased regulatory burden on information flows between businesses in each territory.

The reciprocal agreement to recognize the adequacy of each other’s data protection framework is the first between the EU and another jurisdiction.

Commissioner Haruhi Kumazawa of Japan’s Personal Information Protection Commission, or PPC, and EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová released a joint statement announcing the deal.

“The mutual adequacy finding will create the world’s largest area of safe data transfers based on a high level of protection of personal data,” the statement said.

The statement adds that both sides should complete preparations to implement the deal later this year, saying they  "commit to complete by autumn 2018 their relevant internal procedures required for this framework."

The agreement sees the PPC designate the European Economic Area — the EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — as a foreign country with equivalent standards of protection for citizens' personal data to those provided under Japanese privacy law. In turn, the European Commission accepts that Japan ensures a level of data protection adequate for the bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation, which entered into force in May.

The agreement came on the same day as the presidents of the European Commission and European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, were in Tokyo to sign a Japan-EU free-trade agreement.

That signing was postponed by a week after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled a trip to Brussels to oversee the rescue efforts from catastrophic rain in western Japan.

In a joint press conference, Juncker described the data-privacy agreement as being in the “same spirit” as the bilateral free-trade agreement.

PPC counselor Kazunori Yamamoto told reporters that the data agreement, in addition to facilitating transfer procedures for companies operating in both regions, would provide “systematic stability” at a time when differing privacy rules in various jurisdictions have increased compliance risks as data takes an increasingly prominent role in the global economy.

Yamamoto said that the PPC will now work to make the adequacy finding official, and to implement its draft guidelines that set a higher privacy bar for EU citizens’ data than for Japanese.

Global Privacy in 2018