Japan Proposes Legislation to Expand Confidential Information Classification and Security Checks

Mar1,2024 #Japan

LI Network

Published on: March 01, 2024 at 10:37 IST

Japan’s government introduced a new proposal aimed at bolstering national security by broadening the classification of confidential information and instituting security clearance checks for employees at relevant companies. The legislation, seeks to align Japan’s practices more closely with those of Western nations, facilitating enhanced information sharing with domestic businesses and international allies.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration argues that this move will not only fortify Japan’s information security but also open up greater international business opportunities for Japanese companies. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi emphasized the potential benefits during a press briefing, asserting that a security clearance system could strengthen Japan’s overall security posture and facilitate smoother collaboration with global partners.

However, the proposed bill is expected to encounter resistance from opposition lawmakers, who voice concerns over potential encroachments on civil liberties. Critics fear that the new regulations could lead to excessive government intrusion into private affairs.

The legislation, which is set to be presented to parliament soon, comes as Japan shifts away from decades of pacifism and moves to relax restrictions on military exports. This strategic pivot aims to foster collaborations on defense projects with other nations, such as the joint development of a new fighter jet involving BAE Systems Plc, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Leonardo Spa.

Under the proposed changes, employees at companies with access to sensitive information will undergo rigorous security clearance procedures. These checks will involve interviews by government officials, scrutiny of past behavior including drug or alcohol abuse, criminal background checks, psychological assessments, examination of financial records, and questioning of family members.

Mihoko Matsubara, chief cybersecurity strategist at Japanese telecoms firm NTT, welcomed the legislation, highlighting its potential to facilitate more comprehensive information sharing between the government and industry. Matsubara emphasized the importance of creating a trusted environment for discussing sensitive information to better address evolving cyber threats.

The proposed legislation also introduces stringent penalties for unauthorized disclosure of classified government information, with offenders facing up to five years in prison and fines of up to 5 million yen.

As Japan navigates a rapidly changing security landscape, this legislative initiative underscores its commitment to enhancing national security capabilities and fostering stronger collaboration with international partners.

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