Brief History and Introduction of Privacy and Human Rights
From Article 21 of the Japan Constitution states, “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.” Article 35 states, “The right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and effects against entries, searches and seizures shall not be impaired except upon warrant issued for adequate cause and particularly describing the place to be searched and things to be seized . . . Each search or seizure shall be made upon separate warrant issued by a competent judicial officer.”1
A 1988 Act for the Protection of Computer Processed Personal Data Held by Administrative Organs governs the use of personal information in computerized files held by government agencies. It imposes duties of security, access, and correction. Agencies must limit their collection to relevant information and publish a public notice listing their file systems.
The Japanese government has followed a policy of self-regulation for the private sector, especially relating to electronic commerce. Essentially, there were no set privacy laws other than the general issues stated in the constitution, but when needed the Japanese government will intervene and regulate. In June of 1998, former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto announced that he had signed an agreement with U.S. President Clinton for self-regulation for privacy measures on the Internet except for certain sensitive data. “If data in a certain industry is highly confidential, legal methods can be considered for that industry.”2
Several committees have been set up to develop laws for privacy issues. In July of 1999, the government set up the Working Party on Personal Data Protection under the Advanced Information of Telecommunications Society Promotion Headquarters. In January of 2000, the government gathered the Expert Committee for Drafting Law of Personal Data Protection under the advanced Information and Telecommunications Society Promotion Headquarters to develop a law to protect personal information on the basis of the Interim Report of the Working Party. The panel then released a report in June of 2000 urging the adoption of legal protections for processing of personal information by businesses and the creation of a government office to handle complaints and investigation.
In February of 1998, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry established a Supervisory Authority for the Protection of Personal Data to monitor a new system for granting of “privacy marks” to businesses committing to the handling of the personal data in accordance with the MITI guidelines. The “privacy mark” system was administered by the Japan Information Processing Development Center (JIPDEC). JIPDEC was a joint public/private agency. Any company that does not comply with the...