Japan’s lower house on Thursday passed a bill to promote economic security, putting it on track to be enacted during the current regular parliamentary session as the country faces growing geopolitical risks associated with the Russia and China.
The bill calls for the strengthening of supply chains to secure stable supplies of semiconductors and other vital products and stipulates measures to prevent the leakage of nuclear and defense related information.
With the new law, Japan seeks to be in step with the United States and European countries, which are more advanced in promoting economic security, as the rise of China has intensified global competition in the field of high tech while the rapidly changing security environment amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The House of Representatives passes a bill to promote economic security during a plenum session in parliament in Tokyo on April 7, 2022. (Kyodo)
The bill passed the House of Representatives with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition ally Komeito as well as opposition parties including the Democratic Constitutional Party of Japan. It must now be voted on in the House of Councillors.
Under the proposed law, the government will designate goods such as chips, pharmaceuticals and rare minerals as critical items to be closely monitored and for which it will financially support suppliers to help them procure them on a stable basis. .
The government will also facilitate the development of artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies through public-private cooperation by providing information and funding.
In the area of infrastructure, including telecommunications and transport, the government will control the equipment that operators plan to install to mitigate vulnerability to cyber attacks and prevent the use of parts from abroad that could pose threats to Security.
New rules will be introduced to make certain patents related to sensitive technologies non-public.
As there are fears that excessive state involvement in the private economy will hamper business activities, it will have to act with caution.
After the main opposition party CDPJ raised such concerns, the LDP-led ruling coalition added a non-binding resolution to the bill stating that the independence of business activities must be respected.
In March, Japan’s biggest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation, also known as Keidanren, along with the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Kansai Economic Federation, called on the government to reduce the burden on businesses when implementing the proposed economic security law.
The resolution also called for considering imposing sanctions on companies that refuse government investigations into supply chains, reflecting a request from the Japan Innovation Party, a minor opposition force.
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