Japan is considering stipulating in a document with the United States that Washington’s commitment to defend the Asian country under a key article of their long-standing security treaty extends to cyberattacks, government sources has said.
Tokyo is aiming to redefine the coverage of the security treaty in a joint statement of talks involving foreign and defense ministers of the two countries to be held this year, the sources said Friday.
Article 5 of the treaty obligates the United States to help protect territory under Japanese administration in the case of an armed attack.
The plan comes as Japan last month adopted a new 10-year national defense guideline that stated its Self-Defense Forces’ possession of capabilities to counter cyberattacks.
Japanese officials believe it is increasingly important to strengthen cooperation with the United States as there are growing threats of cyberattacks posed by China, Russia and North Korea.
Japanese and U.S. defense authorities have already agreed in principle that Washington, based on Article 5, will deal with cyberattacks if it recognizes them as the use of force against Japan, according to government officials.
Japan and the United States have a number of times affirmed that Article 5 applies to the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
In September 2014, NATO made clear that cyberattacks against any NATO member would be attacks against all members, falling within the doctrine of collective defense.
A Foreign Ministry official said they will use the case of NATO, of which the United States is a member, as a reference, while the question of what type of cyberattacks should be judged as the exercise of force against Japan remains difficult to be defined.