U.S., Japan Ramp Up Cybersecurity Coordination

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By George Lynch

The U.S. and Japan promised to strengthen cybersecurity cooperation and cyberthreat information-sharing in a joint statement issued July 24 at the conclusion of the fifth bilateral meeting on the subject.

The two countries pledged to collaborate on critical infrastructure protection and other issues following the Japan-U.S. Cyber Dialogue.

“As state-sponsored attacks seem to be proliferating, Japan and the U.S. plan to team up to defend themselves against them,” Jonathan Meyer, privacy and cybersecurity partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA.

The U.S. has similarly close, cooperative agreements in cyberspace with such countries as the U.K. and Israel, and Japan holds bilateral cybersecurity discussions with countries in the Asia-Pacific and Europe. But the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and the U.S. interest in countering China and North Korea in the Pacific makes the U.S.-Japan cybersecurity relationship particularly important to both countries, cybersecurity professionals said. Under the 1960 treaty, the U.S. pledged to defend Japan in the event of an attack, in exchange for Japan hosting U.S. troops.

“Japan’s strategic positioning as a technologically advanced liberal democracy in the same neighborhood as North Korea and China makes this all the more valuable,” Meyer said.

U.S. companies stand to benefit from continued U.S.-Japan cooperation, Tom Kellerman, CEO of cybersecurity investment strategy company Strategic Cyber Ventures in Washington and a former member of the Commission on Cybersecurity under President Barack Obama, told Bloomberg BNA. Given the sophistication of the Japanese technology and cybersecurity, U.S. companies will be alerted to cybersecurity indicators and classified techniques used by adversaries to react better in real time to developing threats, Kellerman said. Cooperation also helps protect the supply chain of goods moving between the countries, he said.

“Japan has long been a leader in both technology and cybersecurity with companies like Trend Micro Inc. securing vast swaths of American cyberspace,” Kellerman said. He called the agreement “fundamental in civilizing cyberspace,” and said action to stabilize cyberspace must be forthcoming this year, given the U.S. economy’s considerable reliance on Japanese manufacturing and technology.

Securing Infrastructure

The countries also promised improvements on infrastructure protection. Acknowledging that “critical infrastructure resilience is essential to both countries,” the joint statement affirmed that the U.S. and Japan “will deepen each other’s understanding of respective approaches.”

Japan is currently implementing cyberattack prevention measures in ten different infrastructure sectors, including information security, finance, electricity, medical services, and transportation.

“Cybersecurity service providers and system/network vendors can benefit from the needs of companies in these important infrastructure businesses,” Daisuke Tatsuno, information technology partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP in Tokyo, told Bloomberg BNA.

International Norms and Cooperation

The two countries pledged to continue promoting a strategic framework and international norms to foster cooperation and stability among states in cyberspace consistent with international law. They said they would share perspectives and coordinate efforts related to national cybersecurity as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The dialogue produced continued progress on a cybersecurity threat and incident information-sharing agreement announced in May, when Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Automated Indicator Sharing program.

To contact the reporter on this story: George Lynch in Washington at gLynch@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Donald Aplin at daplin@bna.com

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