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Challenging the EU's ‘Right to Be Forgotten’? Society's ‘Right to Know’ in Japan

DOI https://doi.org/10.21552/edpl/2019/1/6

Frederike Zufall


This article asks the extent to which the concept of the ‘right to be forgotten’ has been received by Japanese law – or whether, to the contrary, Japan is challenging the EU's concept. In a 2017 judgment, the Japanese Supreme Court rejected a request for injunctive relief to delete search results from the search engine Google. The decisive argument focused on the public interest around the facts concerned: a crime committed by the applicant several years earlier. The court did not just award the right to freedom of expression to Google, but centred its decision on society's right to know – thereby putting society's interest before that of the individual. In the light of the pending adoption of the EU-Japan adequacy decision, this divergence from the EU concept raises doubts as to whether 'adequacy' can be achieved between legal systems founded on cultural differences. Can we still afford to base our legal regimes on different social consciousness in the era of a borderless Internet?
Keywords: Data Protection Law, Japan, Right to Be Forgotten, Adequacy Decision

Frederike Zufall, Assistant Professor, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan; Dr. iur., Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. For correspondence: <mailto:f.zufall@kurenai.waseda.jp>.

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