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We protest against railroading through Diet of digitalization-related bills that would pave the way for a surveillance society

Kurosawa Koichi
Secretary General
the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
May 12, 2021

The Diet enacted a set of five digital transformation-related bills into law after railroading them through the House of Councilors by majority votes of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and other parties. Separately, a bill to standardize practical systems of local public entities is expected to be enacted.

The digital transformation-related laws, which are aimed at digitalizing the society, will create a new digital agency as an administrative body under the direct control of the prime minister. One of the laws will unify the three existing laws to protect personal information. Another related law provides for a system of registration of bank accounts to transfer benefits from administrative offices. The set of bills have been discussed as a package. At issue in the parliamentary discussions was how personal information can be protected. However, the government’s attitude was insufficient about it. We protest against the legislation because it could pave the way for a surveillance society.

The main aim of the digitalization-related legislation is to process personal information that is stored at administrative offices into anonymous information for use by private businesses. This clearly shows that serving the business interests above anything else is what the digital transformation is about. We must also point out that digitalization could further widen the digital divide. Although the laws were enacted, there remain many problems that need to be dealt with.

Digitalization has had a considerable impact on society over the last more than 20 years. The number of people who work remotely has increased since last year as a way to curb the spread of infections. The development of digital technology could further change the way people work. Although people of different generations have differing perceptions of the quick digital evolution, digitalization should serve to shorten working hours enabling people to take active part in the community affairs and to spend more time at home so that they can have a bountiful life in society.

Personal information that is kept at administrative offices should not be utilized for the benefit of businesses. Zenroren demands that people be given a right to strictly manage their own personal information and that digitalization policy should not be promoted hastily. We demand that the administration listen to what front-line workers might say and take time to implement the policies in order to prevent systems disorders and such accidents as personal data breach. We also demand that digital administration be improved in order to prevent digital divide from developing. We will continue to increase our common movement to prevent the emergence of a surveillance society that allows the state to take control of the public.


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