Japanese Government Plans to Create Centralized Certification Body for Security Clearance System

The Japanese government is gearing up to establish a new organization that will be responsible for certifying individuals who handle sensitive economic security information. This move is part of the proposed security clearance system and aims to streamline the process of sharing crucial information with partner countries, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductors.

Currently, Japan lacks a centralized system for vetting individuals who handle sensitive information, resulting in missed opportunities for participation in international research and development projects due to concerns over data protection. By introducing a strict screening process, the government hopes to rectify this issue and facilitate joint projects with the United States and other countries, ultimately providing more business opportunities for Japanese companies.

The new organization will be tasked with conducting background checks on government officials and private-sector researchers involved in joint research and development projects pertaining to sensitive government information. Specifically, the focus will be on protecting information related to AI, semiconductors, cyber-attacks, and defense mechanisms against them.

The screening process will cover various aspects of candidates’ backgrounds, including criminal and disciplinary records, drug abuse records, mental health history, and economic conditions. Once individuals are deemed eligible to handle sensitive information, they will receive authorization from government organizations, streamlining the process for private businesses engaging in contracts with multiple government entities.

While the proposed system aims to centralize the investigation process, certain government departments such as the Defense Ministry will retain the autonomy to conduct their own rigorous checks. Additionally, the sensitive information will be categorized into two groups based on its level of importance, with corresponding punishment for leaking such data potentially reaching up to 10 years in prison.

The government’s expert panel is expected to finalize the proposal for the new security clearance system by January, with plans to submit related bills to the ordinary Diet session next year. This development highlights Japan’s commitment to enhancing its economic security measures and fostering international collaboration in key technological areas.

As the global landscape continues to evolve, safeguarding sensitive information and promoting cross-border cooperation in critical sectors like AI and semiconductors has become paramount for Japan’s economic security. The proposed security clearance system reflects a proactive step towards achieving these objectives, signaling the country’s readiness to adapt to the challenges of the modern era.

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