The Japan EU Economic Partnership Agreement: Flows of Personal Data to the Land of the Rising Sun

15 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2018

Date Written: October 25, 2017


At the EU-Japan Summit in July this year the European Union (EU) and Japan have achieved a political agreement in principle on the content of the Japan EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Converging rules on the protection of data privacy could become the basis for a future ‘regulatory handshake’ between the EU and Japan that allows personal data to flow either way. For Japan, however, including data flows in the trade deal with the EU has been an important political goal besides mutual recognition of their privacy laws. The EU is currently not favorably disposed to allow new data flow provisions in its trade deals.

The issue of global data flows is certainly a trending topic in trade diplomacy. The reason why Japan pushes for the inclusion of data flows into its trade deal with the EU is, however, far from evident. Building a ‘state of the art’ digital economy between Japan and the EU is certainly possible in conformity with their data privacy laws and the classical trade law disciplines.

Our brief unpacks how flows of personal data will governed in the relationship between Japan and the EU. As a point of departure we look at the extent to which the prospective trade deal between the two economies would already cover data flows, including personal data. Next, we will take a look at the prospects for a regulatory handshake between Japan and EU providing for mutual recognition of data privacy and flows of personal data. The brief concludes with findings and recommendations on the future directions of Japan EU Economic Partnership Agreement.

Keywords: Japan, European Union, trade law, free trade agreement, privacy, personal data, data flow, data protection law

JEL Classification: K19, K23

Suggested Citation

Bartl, Marija and Irion, Kristina, The Japan EU Economic Partnership Agreement: Flows of Personal Data to the Land of the Rising Sun (October 25, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Kristina Irion (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Rokin 84
Amsterdam, 1012 KX

No contact information is available for Marija Bartl

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