Legal Protection for Non-Personal Data in Japan Comparative Perspective with the EU and the U.S.

MIPLC Master Thesis Series (2016/17)

66 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2018

See all articles by Yuichiro Kaburaki

Yuichiro Kaburaki

Nagoya District Court Okazaki Branch

Date Written: September 13, 2017


Data have become a crucial part of businesses. However, the business entities are facing legal uncertainties when dealing with non-personal and anonymized data since such data do not have specific legal protection. This thesis examines the legal protection for such data under trade secrets, copyrights, torts and contracts in Japan, referring to the situations in the EU and U.S. In Japan, besides contracts, single data cannot be protected while structured data-sets have a chance to be protected under trade secrets and copyrights. This is because structured data-sets have different aspects from single data, which business entities apply their insights or visions to them. Although the protection in Japan is not significantly different from that in the EU and U.S. in terms of trade secrets, the protection under copyrights has differences when compared to sui generis right in the EU and the level of requirement in the U.S. The protection under torts is not likely since the Supreme Court of Japan limits such protection for a production which is not protected under copyrights. Contracts offer the flexibility and thus, can protect even single data unless a contract violates public policy. Since non-personal and anonymized data do not have specific legal protection, the government of Japan is discussing the possibilities to implement new non-legislative and legislative policies as the European Commission is doing. To better examine such policies, the current legal protection should be considered. According to my examination, such protection is not extremely narrow, and therefore, the government should assess the necessity to implement its policies.

Keywords: Data Protection, Big Data, Trade Secret, Copyright, MIPLC

Suggested Citation

Kaburaki, Yuichiro, Legal Protection for Non-Personal Data in Japan Comparative Perspective with the EU and the U.S. (September 13, 2017). MIPLC Master Thesis Series (2016/17), Available at SSRN:

Yuichiro Kaburaki (Contact Author)

Nagoya District Court Okazaki Branch ( email )

Narai 3, Myodaiji-cho
Okazaki, Aichi 4440864

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