Companies in Japan that operate in sectors which require permits or licences (eg, the aviation, banking, pharmaceutical, construction, outsourcing and waste disposal sectors) risk having their licences revoked if their officers or certain employees receive a criminal conviction. This article explains the circumstances in which a company's licence may be revoked and sets out certain measures that companies can take to protect themselves against this risk.
A recent high-profile theft of hard drives containing sensitive personal data has highlighted the need for Japan-based companies to ensure that their cybersecurity measures include processes for disposing of personal data that has been entrusted to them and reviewing their security controls regarding business partners who may come into contact with personal data. The case involved an employee at an IP recycling company who stole nearly 4,000 data storage devices that were destined for disposal.
Certain large corporate groups in Japan have been criticised for having antiquated group governance structures that do not provide adequate protection against corporate malfeasance. It has been recognised that poor group design and governance often play at least an indirect role in white collar crime. As part of ongoing efforts to address these issues, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently published the Practical Guidelines on Group Governance Systems.
Since Japan's first plea bargaining system was introduced in June 2018, prosecutors have used plea bargains in two cases, the second of which led to the dramatic arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former CEO and chair of Renault-Nissan, on the tarmac of Haneda Airport in November 2018. The one-year anniversary of the new system therefore seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the first cases and examine the implications for the future.
Over the past decade, a number of significant regulatory and compliance issues have affected large multinationals based in Japan. As such, the Consumer Affairs Agency recently created a certification regime for corporate whistleblowing systems, which is designed to incentivise businesses to voluntarily enhance their own whistleblowing systems and thereby gain the trust of various stakeholders, including shareholders, counterparties and consumers.