Personal Data Sensitivity in Japan

An Exploratory study

The purpose of this study was to investigate how ordinary Japanese people perceive and understand data sensitivity and sensitive data. Although the concept of sensitive data is described in an article of Japan’s revised personal data act, following the EU Data Protection Directive and the new data protection rule, there has been little research on whether this legally defined concept conforms to the general public’s perception of sensitive data in Japan and, if not, what differences exist between them. Using empirical data acquired through a questionnaire survey and appropriate statistical methods, we sought to clarify empirically the features of data sensitivity as perceived by ordinary Japanese people. This exploratory research revealed that ordinary Japanese tended to feel relatively low sensitivity to personal data related to their civic activities, which are typically mentioned in the official explanation of sensitive data, but they tended to feel a higher degree of sensitivity regarding financial-related personal data, which were not ordinarily considered sensitive data.


Yasunori Fukuta, Meiji University, School of Commerce.

Kiyoshi Murata, Meiji University, Centre for Business Information Ethics.

Andrew A. Adams, Meiji University, Centre for Business Information Ethics.

Yohko Orito, Ehime University, Faculty of Collaborative Regional Innovation.

Ana María Lara Palma, Universidad de Burgos, Department of Civil Engineering


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