Japan begins to prevent foreign students and foreign researchers from leaking important technologies

On June 2, the government announced the “Growth Strategy Implementation Plan” for 2021, which includes economic policies to be addressed in the future, mainly in the area of economic security and safety. In response to the confrontation between the United States and China in the field of cutting-edge technology, the government intends to strengthen the legal system to prevent technology leakage through foreign researchers and foreign students.

In view of the problems that occur in Japan, such as the flow of electronic data to foreign countries, the plan states that important data needs to be properly managed in Japan from a security perspective. In addition, up to five core data bases and up to 10 local bases will be established in case of disasters and other unforeseen circumstances.

Since the global demand for semiconductors is high and the dependence on China and Taiwan is high, from the point of view of economic security, the proposal considers that raising and securing the share of domestic production is the issue, and the government will support the research and development of the semiconductor industry at the financial level, and will also accelerate the attraction of overseas companies to Japan.

At the same time, the proposal proposes to strengthen the examination of foreign students and researchers coming to Japan, and to strengthen the operation of the Foreign Exchange Law and other laws to prevent the outflow of important technologies that can be used for weapons and other purposes. Under the Foreign Exchange Law, the provision of certain technologies and information to foreign countries or non-residents in Japan is considered “an export” and requires special permission from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. However, since foreign students and researchers who have been in Japan for more than six months are now considered “residents” and therefore do not require such permission, the plan proposes that the provision of such information to residents and non-residents alike will be subject to the same control as long as the information provided is in fact the same kind of information, and the government will implement this measure in the coming year. In addition, the scope of information required to be disclosed will be expanded to determine whether universities and research institutions that receive foreign investment are conducting fair research. From a security perspective, measures to promote the non-disclosure of certain patents will also be considered.

Various Japanese media reported on May 21 that some drawings of a test machine gun manufactured by Sumitomo Machinery Industries in Japan and delivered to the Land Self-Defense Force had been leaked to a Chinese company.

The Foreign Exchange Law requires prior permission from the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry for the transfer of defense equipment or information overseas, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued a stern warning to Sumitomo Machinery Industries Japan and the commissioning company on April 28 for violating the law.