Both the European Commission and Japanese Personal Information Protection Commission (PPC) publicised their adequacy decisions on 23 January 2019. While the EU gave adequacy decision to the first third country under the General Data Protection Regulation, Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) and the first Asian country Japan issued its first equivalency decision under the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI).
It is not easy to bridge two legal systems, regardless of its different cultures and social norms. However, this has been achieved through the mutual adequacy decisions, thus opening a new chapter of data protection law throughout the world. The mutual adequacy does not mean that the EU and Japan have completely integrated their data protection laws and practices, rather, the two have agreed to live together remotely while trusting each other to protect personal data. Indeed, data transfer regulations can work as tools to connect different systems through trust and future assurances to cooperate for progress.
The ‘essence’ of data protection in the EU is partly and externally guaranteed through the adequacy framework. As the ‘Brussels effect’ stands for the EU influences posed to third countries, the effects of the adequacy framework from within the EU also have external global effects. At the same time, the adequacy scheme may become a form of ‘carrot and stick’, thus rewarding third countries (such as Japan). However, this threatens countries outside the EU in matters related to trade (e.g. the EU-US Safe Harbour decision, which was later invalidated by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)).
This article discusses the mutual adequacy decisions and assignments consequently given to Japan for the next step. For one thing, it raises potential risks related to the partial adequacy decision, which only covers the private sector and may therefore be revised by the Japanese legislators in the near future. In sum, the mutual adequacy decision between the EU and Japan was a forward-looking and mutually beneficial political choice that will shape the ‘essence’ of data protection philosophy for decades.
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This e-conference was organised by Yumiko Nakanishi, Professor of European Union Law at the Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, and Dr. Olivia Tambou, Associate Professor at the University of Paris-Dauphine, Editor of Blogdroiteuropeen. Special thanks to both Dr. Edoardo Stopionni and Dr. Alessandra Donati, senior research fellows at the Max Planck Institute of Luxembourg and members of the blogdroiteuropeen team, for their contribution to the organisation of the e-conference.
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