In addition to ex officio oversight, individuals also have several possibilities for obtaining individual redress, both through independent authorities (such as the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions or the PPC) and the Japanese courts.
First, with respect to personal information collected by Administrative Organs, the latter are under an obligation to "endeavour to properly and expeditiously process any complaints" regarding its subsequent processing (Article 48 of the APPIHAO). While Chapter IV of the APPIHAO on individual rights is not applicable with respect to personal information recorded in "documents relating to trials and seized articles" (Article 53-2(2) of the CCP) – which covers personal information collected as part of criminal investigations – individuals may bring a complaint to invoke the general data protection principles such as for instance the obligation to only retain personal information "when the retention is necessary for performing [law enforcement functions]" (Article 3(1) of the APPIHAO).
In addition, Article 79 of the Police Law guarantees individuals who have concerns with respect to the "execution of duties" by police personnel the right to lodge a complaint with the (competent) independent Prefectural Public Safety Commission. The Commission will "faithfully" handle such complaints in accordance with laws and local ordinances and shall notify the complainant in writing of the results. Based on its authority to supervise and "direct" the Prefectural Police with respect to "personnel's misconduct" (Articles 38(3), 43-2(1) of the Police Law), it may request the Prefectural Police to investigate the facts, take appropriate measures based on the outcome of this investigation and report on the results. If it considers that the investigation carried out by the Police has not been adequate, the Commission may also provide instructions on the handling of the complaint.
In order to facilitate complaint handling, the NPA has issued a "Notice" to the Police and Prefectural Public Safety Commissions on the proper handling of complaints regarding the execution of duties by police officers. In this document, the NPA stipulates standards for the interpretation and implementation of Article 79 of the Police Law. Among others, it requires the Prefectural Police to establish a "system for handling complaints" and to handle and report all complaints to the competent Prefectural Public Safety Commission "promptly". The Notice defines complaints as claims seeking correction "for any specific disadvantage that has been inflicted as the result of an illegal or inappropriate behaviour" (115) or "failure to take a necessary action, by a police officer in his/her execution of duty" (116), as well as any "grievance/discontent about inappropriate mode of duty execution by a police officer". The material scope of a complaint is thus broadly defined, covering any claim of unlawful collection of data, and the complainant does not have to demonstrate any harm suffered as a result of a police officer’s actions. Importantly, the Notice stipulates that foreigners (among others) shall be provided with assistance in formulating a complaint. Following a complaint, the Prefectural Public Safety Commissions are required to ensure that the Prefectural Police examines the facts, implements measures "according to the result of the examination" and reports on the results. Where the Commission considers the examination to be insufficient, it shall issue an instruction on the handling of the complaint, which the Prefectual Police is required to follow. Based on the reports received and the measures taken, the Commission notifies the individual indicating, among others, the measures taken to address the complaint. The NPA Notice stresses that complaints should be handled in a "sincere manner" and that the result should be notified "within the scope of time […] deemed appropriate in the light of the social norms and common sense".
Second, given that redress will naturally have to be sought abroad in a foreign system and in a foreign language, in order to facilitate redress for EU individuals whose personal data is transferred to business operators in Japan and then accessed by public authorities, the Japanese government has made use of its powers to create a specific mechanism, administered and supervised by PPC, for handling and resolving complaints in this field. That mechanism builds on the cooperation obligation imposed on Japanese public authorities under the APPI and the special role of the PPC with respect to international data transfers from third countries under Article 6 of the APPI and the Basic Policy (as established by the Japanese government through Cabinet Order). The details of this mechanism are set out in the official representations, assurances and commitments received from the Japanese government and attached to this Decision as Annex II. The mechanism is not subject to any standing requirement and is open to any individual, independently of whether (s)he is suspected or accused of a criminal offence.
Under the mechanism, an individual who suspects that his/her data transferred from the European Union has been collected or used by public authorities in Japan (including those responsible for criminal law enforcement) in violation of the applicable rules can submit a complaint to the PPC (individually or though his/her data protection authority within the meaning of Article 51 of the GDPR). The PPC will be under an obligation to handle the complaint and in a first step inform the competent public authorities, including the relevant oversight bodies, thereof. Those authorities are required to cooperate with the PPC, "including by providing the necessary information and relevant material, so that the PPC can evaluate whether the collection or the subsequent use of personal information has taken place in compliance with the applicable rules" (117). This obligation, derived from Article 80 of the APPI (requiring Japanese public authorities to co-operate with PPC), applies in general and hence extends to the review of any investigatory measures taken by such authorities, which moreover have committed to such cooperation through written assurances from the competent ministries and agency heads, as reflected in Annex II.
If the evaluation shows that an infringment of the applicable rules has occurred, "cooperation by the concerned public authorities with the PPC includes the obligation to remedy the violation", which in case of the unlawful collection of personal information covers the deletion of such data. Importantly, this obligation is carried out under the supervision of the PPC which will "confirm, before concluding the evaluation, that the violation has been fully remedied".
Once the evaluation is concluded, the PPC shall notify the individual within a reasonable period of time of the outcome of the evaluation, including any corrective action taken where applicable. At the same time, the PPC shall also inform the individual about the possibility of seeking a confirmation of the outcome from the competent public authority and the identity of the authority to which such a request for confirmation should be made. The possibility to receive such a confirmation, including the reasons underpinning the decision of the competent authority, may be of assistance to the individual in taking any further steps, including when seeking judicial redress. Detailed information on the outcome of the evaluation can be restricted as long as there are reasonable grounds to consider that communicating such information is likely to pose a risk to the ongoing investigation.
Third, an individual who disagrees with a seizure decision (warrant) (118) concerning his/her personal data by a judge, or with the measures by the police or prosecution executing such a decision, may file a request for that decision or such measures to be rescinded or altered (Articles 429(1), 430(1), (2) of the CCP, Article 26 of the Wiretapping Act) (119). In the case where the reviewing court considers that either the warrant itself or its execution ("procedure for seizure") is illegal, it will grant the request and order the seized articles to be returned (120).
Fourth, as a more indirect form of judicial control, an individual who considers that the collection of his/her personal information as part of a criminal investigation was illegal may, at his/her criminal trial, invoke this illegality. If the court agrees, this will lead to the exclusion of the evidence as inadmissible.
Finally, under Article 1(1) of the State Redress Act a court may grant compensation where a public officer who exercises the public authority of the State has, in the course of his/her duties, unlawfully and with fault (intentionally or negligently) inflicted damage on the individual concerned. According to Article 4 of the State Redress Act, the State's liability for damages is based on the provisions of the Civil Code. In this respect, Article 710 of the Civil Code stipulates that liability also covers damages other than those to property, and hence moral damage (for instance in the form of "mental distress"). This includes cases where the privacy of an individual has been invaded by unlawful surveillance and/or the collection of his/her personal information (e.g. the illegal execution of a warrant) (121).
In addition to monetary compensation, individuals may under certain conditions also obtain injunctive relief (e.g. the deletion of personal data collected by public authorities) based on their privacy rights under Article 13 of the Constitution (122).
With respect to all those redress avenues, the dispute resolution mechanism created by the Japanese government provides that an individual who is still dissatisfied with the outcome of the procedure can address the PPC "which shall inform the individual of the various possibilities and detailed procedures for obtaining redress under Japanese laws and regulations." Moreover, the PPC "will provide the individual with support, including counselling and assistance in bringing any further action to the relevant administrative or judicial body."
This includes making use of the procedural rights under the Code of Criminal Procedure. For instance, "[w]here the evaluation reveals that an individual is a suspect in a criminal case, the PPC will inform the individual about that fact" (123) as well as the possibility pursuant to Article 259 of the CCP to ask the prosecution to be notified once the latter has decided not to initiate criminal proceedings. Also, if the evaluation reveals that a case involving the personal information of the individual has been opened and that the case is concluded, the PPC will inform the individual that the case record can be inspected pursuant to Article 53 of the CCP (and Article 4 of the Act on Final Criminal Case Records). Gaining access to his/her case record is important as it will help the individual to better understand the investigation carried out against him/her and thus to prepare an eventual court action (e.g. a damages claim) in case (s)he considers his/her data was unlawfully collected or used.