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Japan must deepen cooperation with US to deter cyber-attacks
Publication Date : 15-05-2013
A string of serious cyber-attacks and cyberterrorism incidents have occurred around the world. The government should promote extensive cooperation with the United States and reinforce its countermeasures against such attacks.
The Japanese and US governments recently held their first bilateral "cyber dialogue". They released a joint statement saying they would cooperate comprehensively to defend such critical infrastructure as telecommunication networks, financial systems and electricity supplies, and to establish international rules on cyber-issues.
Both sides agreed to hold a second meeting this autumn and to deepen their dialogue.
Bilateral cooperation in the new field of cyberspace security will help both nations deepen the Japan-US alliance as a whole, just as cooperation on space and maritime security has done. We hope cooperation in the new field will steadily take shape.
The threat is real
In March this year, several financial institutions and TV stations in South Korea came under a cyber-attack that caused massive disruptions to users of automated teller machines and personal computers. The South Korean government later concluded the attack had been the work of a North Korean intelligence agency.
Japan should not treat this incident as "a fire on the other side of the river". Major players in the nation's defence industry, such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., as well as courts and government organisations have already been targeted by cyber-attacks.
It is imperative that Japan share an awareness of the threat posed by the latest cyber-attack and reinforce its defences through exchanges of information and cooperation with the United States, a "leading nation in cyberspace."
Japan also needs to earnestly foster professional engineers in this field and strengthen the protection of infrastructure through joints efforts by the government and private sector.
Working out international rules will be an important task in the days ahead.
Last year, the United Nations established an expert panel on cyberspace security, and 15 countries, including Japan, the United States and Britain, began talks on an international code of conduct.
In the United States and European countries, the application of international laws of war and the right of collective self-defence against cyber-attacks have been discussed.
It is important for Japan to cooperate with the countries concerned, including the United States, and get involved in drawing up the international rules.
Stand united against China
The Defence Ministry plans to establish what has tentatively been called the "cyberspace defence corps" in the Self-Defence Forces in spring next year.
Under what sort circumstances will the government be able to invoke the right of self-defence and switch the primary responsibility for repelling cyber-attacks to the SDF from police authorities? Study of such issues from a legal perspective will be needed.
In an annual report released last week on military and security developments involving China, the US Defence Department singled Beijing out for criticism by stating that last year numerous computer systems were targeted for intrusions, "some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military".
It is vital for the international community to stand united in guiding China into abiding by international rules, just as it must on security issues in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
It is also significant that the latest Japan-US dialogue was attended by officials not only from the Foreign Ministry, but from other government bodies including the Cabinet Secretariat, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the National Police Agency.
In working out and implementing measures against cyber-attacks, it is important for ministries and agencies concerned to act as a single team by sharing relevant information, rather than getting bogged down by bureaucratic sectionalism.