Japan’s data privacy laws became stricter following the 2020 amendment to Japan’s data protection law (the Act on the Protection of Personal Information), although the amendment will not be enforced until April 2022. The amendments have increased the obligations of companies to be transparent and secure with personal information and to strengthen cybersecurity, and businesses will need to align accordingly or risk incurring criminal charges, including up to a year in prison and fines of up to JPY100 million.
Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, announced in September 2020 that he will form a Digital Agency to lead the acceleration of the country’s digitalisation programme (especially in terms of government administration). This new Digital Agency is currently under preparation with it being aimed to start operating from September 2021.
The roll out of Japan’s 5G network is contributing to the increasingly favourable conditions for the development of the country’s digital landscape, with the government having initially seen the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as the perfect stage to demonstrate its technological prowess. The major full-scale mobile phone service operators, NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank, and KDDI, all launched 5G services in March 2020, with all of these players also beginning to sell 5G enabled smartphones following the launch.
LINE remains Japan’s leading messaging app, but it continues to expand into other areas as it looks to build and establish itself as a digital universe covering a diverse range of aspects of consumers’ lives. In addition to offering proximity payments through LINE Pay the company also branched out into other areas during 2020, with many of these being informed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Major domestic e-commerce player, Rakuten, finally launched its full-scale mobile phone service in Japan in April 2020, having initially planned the launch for October 2019. The company is utilising a low-price strategy as it looks to compete with the three existing major players, NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank, and KDDI.
The Japanese Government initially planned to launch 5G in the country prior to the now rearranged 2020 Tokyo Olympics in order to showcase the country’s technological expertise and leadership. Amongst the major full-scale mobile phone service operators, NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank, and KDDI all launched 5G services in March 2020, followed by Rakuten in September.
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