Big Data is generating strong interest among Japanese companies these days. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, use of Big Data has expanded in industries, such as retailing, manufacturing and transportation.
Companies are gathering data on their customers, but since they are complying with the existing personal information law there is technically no legal issue. However, customers are not comfortable with their data being stored by the companies.
Earlier this year, JR (Japan Railways) sold data they had collected through IC cards like Suica and PASMO, which are widely used in Japan for public transportation and small purchases, to Hitachi corporation for use in marketing campaigns. Customers reaction was sharply negative and JR ultimately was forced to ask Hitachi to return the data.
The United States government and the European Union have already issued guidelines for the use of Big Data. In the US, companies can use the Big Data, but it must be stripped of personal identifiers. In the EU, companies must get permission from customers before they can use the personal information for any purpose. The Japanese government is also studying reforms regarding the collection and use of Big Data and will likely introduce legislation in 2014.
Public reaction to the JR data sale to Hitachi was strongly critical and has increased pressure to establish a clear legal framework these transactions. The large business organization, Keidanren, has made adoption of a new framework a key priority — signaling the growing importance of the Internet Economy within Japan’s business strategy.