Japan Diet Enacts Security Clearance Bill

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet Building

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Diet, Japan’s parliament, enacted on Friday a bill to introduce a security clearance system for individuals who are allowed to handle important information related to economic security.

The bill was approved by a majority vote at a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, with support mainly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its junior coalition partner Komeito and the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. The bill passed the House of Representatives, the lower chamber, last month.

Under the new law on the protection and use of important economic security information, those who leaked key information will face penalties, such as a prison sentence of up to five years.

Information that could threaten the country’s security depending on how it is handled, such as that related to cybersecurity measures and weak spots of supply chains, will be considered key economic security information.

The Japanese government will provide sensitive information only to people recognized as having no risk of leaking such information. Such individuals will be selected after going through the government’s seven-prong background checks, covering matters such as criminal records and mental health issues.

The new law will work in conjunction with the existing law on the protection of specially designated secrets, which provides a security clearance system for information in four areas that require higher levels of confidentiality, including defense and diplomacy.

With the security clearance system being expanded to cover information on economic security, the number of individuals authorized to handle sensitive information in the private sector is expected to rise.

In order to ensure the transparency of the system, the government will report to the Diet every year on related matters such as the designation and removal of key economic security information.

The new law will not only strengthen Japan’s information security, but also boost industrial competitiveness, as companies will be able to take part in more international joint research and development projects, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a meeting of the Upper House’s Cabinet Committee on Thursday.