Security panel to discuss Japan’s response to cyberattacks on allies

Kyodo

An expert government panel on ending Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense will discuss the country’s response to cyberattacks, a government source said.

Collective self-defense is the notion of a nation aiding an ally that comes under attack. In this context, the panel will examine whether Japan should exercise the right and help defend another country whose computer systems are being targeted by an outside attack, the source said Monday.

It will also consider how Japan will deal with progress in space development, according to the source. Japan and the United States have cooperated on space security issues in view of China’s expansion in this realm.

Under the current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Japan does not permit itself to exercise the right because doing so would go beyond the self-defense allowed under Article 9.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to change this interpretation and the panel is expected to compile a report in the fall that calls on the government to lift the self-imposed ban, according to several panel members.

The planned discussions on how to respond to cyberattacks are apparently aimed at presenting a specific example of using collective self-defense to gain public understanding toward the change in interpreting the Constitution.

The move also reflects the policy of the United States, Japan’s closest ally, to beef up countermeasures against cyberattacks and focus on space security issues.

The panel was re-established after the Liberal Democratic Party regained power in December. It issued a report in 2008 stating that Japan can only use the right to collective self-defense when defending U.S. naval vessels attacked on the high seas, or intercepting ballistic missiles targeting U.S. soil.

The new report to be submitted possibly in the fall will likely recommend that the right should be allowed to be exercised comprehensively, rather than simply presenting applicable situations, panel members said.