Policy Radar

Policy Radar March 2019

Welcome to Policy Radar!

This is Langley Esquire’s new initiative to deliver up-to-date information on political developments in the Japanese Diet.

Beginning of a New Era

The 198th Japanese ordinary Diet session started on January 28th, 2019.

The number of bills submitted to the Diet will mark the 2nd lowest since the Post-War Era. Diet members will try to avoid extending the Diet session. Extending the legislative session would be difficult this year due to the Emperor succession and the House of Councillors regular election.

Integrated Resorts

Japanese government will require minimum room sizes and facial recognition use in IRs.

On March 5th, in a council regarding IR projects, the Japanese government suggested having large hotels in IRs. The council aims to discuss detailed policies for the nation’s first casino facilities and will create a report after a public comment period. The government is expected to create the standards for IR (e.g. the minimum size for a hotel room) based on the report by the end of March. On March 26th, Japan’s cabinet approved a reserved minimum of 100,000 square meters for guest rooms. Additionally, to prevent money laundering, the government requires operators to report chip exchanges of 1 million yen (or more). The cabinet is expected to release further details in the coming weeks.

Furthermore, the government announced the standard plan for the prevention of gambling addiction. It requires gambling facilities (i.e. horse-racing facilities and pachinko parlors) to introduce facial recognition systems and remove ATMs within their facilities, effectively limiting the entry of gambling addicts. The government aims to approve this standard plan next month.

Cryptocurrency

Revised regulations concerning cryptocurrency to take effect from April 2020.

The Japanese cabinet approved a series of draft amendments regarding cryptocurrency on March 22nd. The registration (created in 2017) mainly focused on cash platforms. From April 2020, all digital currencies related to margin trading will be required to obtain a new government registration. To prevent money laundering, companies dealing with digital currency and margin trading will be separated from the companies issuing cryptocurrency tokens. Moreover, digital currency operators are being asked to register, which will hopefully encourage the industry to have secure operations. 

Data Privacy

Japan’s ruling party aims to tighten regulations on data protection.

Japan’s ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, assigned the Research Commission on Market Competitiveness Policy to oversee data protection and assess major IT companies’ practices (GAFA; Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon). The commission acknowledges that IT companies enable consumers to access useful services, however the companies’ monopoly in this industry worries the commission. These days, the use of private information and illegal dealings have been considered problematic worldwide. The commission hopes to tighten regulations for data protection soon. On March 20th, the Party inquired about the transparency of Google’s business practices in Japan.

Autonomous Vehicles and Drones

The Cabinet Legislation Bureau halted the government’s ambitions of passing a law enabling self-driving cars and drones.

The Japanese government was prevented from submitting a bill regulating the use of self-driving cars and delivery drones during this session. Vying to promote AI and big data from the local level, the Cabinet Legislative Bureau raised concerns on the constitutionality of such a bill since it would contradict a constitutional provision on local governance. There is a possibility that innovations allowed (in the local-level) may not be permitted at the central-level. Having missed the March 19th deadline to submit the bill, the government now hopes to pass a revised version by the end of April.

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