• Jiji, Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday that the government is reviewing its use of popular messaging app Line, following the revelation that a Chinese affiliate of app provider Line Corp. once had access to personal data of Line users in Japan.

The prime minister vowed to make efforts to ensure information security within the government. He was responding to a question from a ruling party lawmaker at a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting.

While the app is increasingly used by the government, Suga stressed that government agencies are not supposed to use services provided via the internet when dealing with confidential information.

At a news conference on the day, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Ryota Takeda said the central government issued a notification to local governments on Wednesday, asking them to report on their use of the messaging app by March 26.

Some local governments accept various application documents and release information through the app.

Takeda said the ministry itself plans to suspend the use of the app for receiving public comments and answering queries. The ministry warned its employees not to use the app to exchange information concerning their work.

"Proper management (of the app) is necessary to ensure an environment allowing users to feel secure using the service," the minister stressed.

According to the minister, Line's parent, Z Holdings Corp., has notified the ministry that the Chinese firm is now barred from accessing the data of users in Japan, and that a panel of external experts will be set up to investigate the matter.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday the Cabinet Secretariat will also stop using the app until all concerns are cleared.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the app has not been used within the ministry except for offering information on recruiting and events.

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