With trading partners accounting for almost a third of the world`s gross domestic product (GDP), the EU-Japan Adequacy Agreement underlines the extent of the economic and regulatory impact of the RGPD. Given the expected increase and facilitation of business activity between the two companies, businesses will benefit from a free and secure flow of data for commercial purposes. The European Commission said the agreement «confirms to the EU and Japan that in the digital age, promoting high standards of data protection and facilitating international trade go hand in hand.» On 23 January 2019, a new step was taken to streamline the flow of personal data between the EU and third countries. The European Commission has adopted a adquacy decision on the transfer of personal data to Japan, while Japan has adopted a decision to do so. In the view of the European Commission, these reciprocal decisions create the most important area in the world for safe data flows. The CPP has been authorized to adopt the complementary rules to ensure a higher level of protection for international data transfers. However, these measures will not be extended to Japanese citizens. Wouldn`t this reverse discrimination be contrary to «substantially equivalent» protection under the RGPD? Or should it be considered a purely internal situation and Japan`s own choice? These are questions that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) can interpret further. Nevertheless, it is difficult to resist the temptation to question the «adequacy» that discriminates against one`s own nationals. On 23 January 2019, Japan was the first country to receive an adaptation decision from the European Commission (EC) after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. These decisions, which govern cross-border data transfers from the EU, reflect the adequacy of a third country`s level of data protection in relation to EU legislation. In short, it is no longer necessary to provide additional safeguards for the transfer of personal data between the EU and Japan.
However, this does not affect the requirement for European companies to enter into data processing agreements with their Japanese subcontractors. Due to the adequacy decision and the complementary rules, the genomic and health data of European and Japanese participants can flow freely between the EU and Japan without additional data protection specifications or contractual guarantees. However, since the scheme applies only to the private sector, the transfer of personal data between public bodies such as local or local governments is excluded. In addition, the scope of the decision includes sectoral exclusions: universities that process personal data for university studies fall into this category. The adequacy decision by the European Commission and its Japanese counterpart will come into force on 23 January 2019. Its operation will be the subject of a joint review by the EC and the CPP in two years, and on that date they will assess the framework and how application and its complementary rules have been applied since the decision came into force. The EDPB will also be part of the audit to ensure that the Japanese government has met its commitments to access data from law enforcement. The transfer of data from the European Union to third countries or international organisations can only take place if they offer an adequate level of data protection, which generally means a level equivalent to that of the RGPD. On 23 January 2019, the European Commission (EC) adopted its adequacy decision on Japan. As one of the most active countries in large-scale OMICS research, with participation in initiatives such as the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), the International Epigenome Consortium (IHEC), GA4GH and Human Cell Atlas, this is a welcome message for Japanese researchers.