New cybersecurity bill would require all ministries to report attacks

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Japan is set to take another step toward bolstering its cybersecurity by creating a central government entity tasked with assessing the threat of online attacks and implementing measures to counter them.

Lawmakers from the ruling coalition will submit a related bill before the current Diet session ends on June 22, with the aim of launching a new cybersecurity policy headquarters, according to the Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner New Komeito.

The envisioned body, which will be headed by the chief Cabinet secretary, will have legal authority to devise a unified cybersecurity strategy for the government and to implement measures across ministries.

The bill aims to strengthen the authority of the National Security Information Center (NISC), which analyzes and counters cyberattacks across government bodies — but it does not have the power to mandate them to submit materials related to cybersecurity.

The bill would oblige all government ministries and agencies to report cyberattacks to the new headquarters. If they refuse to do so, the prime minister would have the authority to order them to comply.

If it passes, the bill would also allow the government to coordinate with the newly established National Security Council to counter cybersecurity threats, which have become increasingly important for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation.

The new bilateral defense guidelines, which are currently under negotiation, will likely cover cybersecurity. In March, the Defense Ministry launched the Cyber Security Unit to monitor cyberattacks against the Self-Defense Forces.

Members of the new entity would include the foreign minister, the defense minister, the trade and economy minister, the internal affairs minister, the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, and other Cabinet ministers.

The NISC would serve as secretariat for the new body and would be given legal authority.