Japanese Companies Welcome Introduction of Security Clearance System; Hopes for Expanded Business Opportunities in Economic Security Field

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Diet members rise to pass a bill to introduce a security clearance system for important information related to economic security on Friday.

As addressing economic security becomes an urgent issue for corporate activities, the business community welcomes the law to introduce a security clearance system, as it will lead to expanded business opportunities.

NEC Corp. on Friday commented, “The trustworthiness of Japan’s information management will improve, enabling further international collaboration.” Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said: “The possibility of being involved in joint development and academic communities will increase. We would like to actively consider utilizing the system.”

Companies are calling for the introduction of a security clearance system because there are cases where they are required to assign qualified personnel who can handle critical information when conducting research and development on advanced technologies with the United States and Europe.

In a survey conducted by the Institute of Geoeconomics, a private research institute affiliated with the International House of Japan, 55.6% of the Japanese companies who responded had stated that they “expect to be unable to participate in projects in the future” due to the lack of a security clearnce system. There had been cases where companies gave up on participating, and a major electronics manufacturer confided, “If we don’t become part of the supply chain, it won’t lead to business.”

The number of companies hiring highly skilled personnel from abroad is increasing, and the internationalization of Japanese companies is also progressing. There are concerns about malicious foreign employees leaking information, and a major telecommunications company faced a situation where they believed they “should conduct their own screening to the extent possible, but there are limitations for companies.”

With the introduction of the new system, the burden on companies is likely to increase in areas such as cost. It will be necessary to establish dedicated departments for handling confidential information and to build a system for the protection and disposal of the information.

In the United States, it is said to take about six months to a year to receive clearance. If a similar time period were to be required in Japan, it may cause restrictions on personnel transfers and other matters. However, Tomoya Suzuki, an associate senior researcher at the NLI Research Institute, said: “We are entering an era where economic security defines corporate activities, and the introduction of this system is an example of that. Companies need to recognize the changing environment and respond accordingly.”