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Economy

Japan targets technology leaks, fears military use abroad

Government aims to restrict data access for students, others

TOKYO -- Japan seeks tighter oversight of information sharing with foreigners, as the country cracks down on technology leaks with the potential for military use.

The nation increasingly sees its private-sector technology unknowingly used in military applications, as arms incorporating Japan-made parts have been found in places such as the Middle East. Other countries also face information leaks by foreigners. The U.S. has prosecuted university staff for letting foreign students access unmanned drone data without government permission.

A rise in foreign nationals researching and working in Japan has prompted the country to boost oversight to match that of its Western counterparts. At an ordinary Diet session beginning Jan. 20, the government will propose revisions to a foreign exchange and trade law that restricts information sharing and the export of technologies such as radars, sensors and semiconductors. The rules could be implemented as early as next spring.

Currently, approval by Japan's trade minister is required for any sharing of critical technology and data with foreigners who have been in the country for less than six months. The legal revisions would extend this period to five years, effectively covering all study-abroad students, and increase oversight of foreigners staying in the country for multiple years.

Tokyo also would request advance notification and follow-up reports when foreign investors or businesses buy shares in unlisted Japanese companies via a third-party business. Reports previously have been requested only for listed businesses.

Though these restrictions could dilute incoming investment, the government is prioritizing safety.

The revisions would raise the 10 million yen ($86,960) maximum fine for illicitly exporting products or parts with potential military applications, and create new provisions allowing for harsh penalties. The government also seems likely to enact heavier supervision targeting illegal exports of restricted items via intermediary or third-party businesses.

(Nikkei)

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