On July 17, 2018, the European Commission successfully concluded negotiations with Japan on a reciprocal adequacy finding which will allow personal data to flow freely from the EU to Japan (and vice versa).
The adequacy decision has not yet been formally adopted, as it must still undergo the respective EU and Japanese approval procedures, which the EU and Japan expect to complete by fall 2018. During that period, Japan is expected to implement additional safeguards required in order to meet EU data protection standards (e.g., for onward transfers).
The conclusion of the negotiations follow Japan’s recent modernization of its data protection legislation which increased the convergence between the two systems. By agreeing on a reciprocal adequacy decision, the European Commission (representing the EU) and Japan acknowledge each other’s data protection laws to “adequately” protect personal data. Once the adequacy decision is adopted, data can flow safely between the EU and Japan without the need to adopt additional safeguards (e.g., standard contractual clauses). The adequacy decision is expected to strengthen trade and economic relations between the EU and Japan.