Japan and Israel to Work Together in Cyberspace


Japan is continuing to expand its network of partner across the world to tackle growing threats emerging from cyberspace. Next to deepening ties with Europe, Japan has also launched a new cyber security dialogue with Israel. As The Diplomat reported back in October 2014, the number of cyber-attacks on Japan is rising rapidly and Tokyo has embarked on an international campaign aimed at strengthening ties with like-minded countries in cyberspace.

At the beginning of January 2014, the Israeli Cabinet approved an investment plan to bolster Israel-Japan trade ties. The plan involves numerous government ministries in both countries, a major investment over the next three years, and among other things, aims to bolster joint research on space and cybersecurity development. The groundwork for this was laid back in July 2014 when Israel and Japan signed a research and cooperation agreement – the first such agreement ever for Japan. The agreement stipulates the dispersion of funds to Israeli and Japanese companies and research centers to conduct a wide range of research including on information and cybersecurity.

Back in May 2012, after a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , the former, according to Bloomberg News, stated that both countries agreed to, “an exchange of views between the two national security organizations and to promote cooperation in the field of national defense and cyber security.”

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Israel is one of world’s leading cyber nations. In 2013 alone, Israel exported cybersecurity products worth more than $ 3 billion. A few of the reasons for this preeminence are the Israeli government’s generous support of private-sector initiatives, strong private-public partnerships, and the continuous influx of cyber security experts, trained as engineers by the Israeli Defense Forces (according to this article, Israel’s famous Unit 8200 has created more technology millionaires than many business schools), into a thriving cybersecurity business start-up scene. Also, Israel is one of a small number of countries developing offensive cyber weapons (as is Japan) illustrating the sophistication of Israel’s tech sector. Tel-Aviv recently announced the creation of a National Cyber Bureau in order to bolster the country’s cyber defenses.

Israel and Japan held their first dialogue on cyber issues back in November 2014. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs topics encompassed rules and norms in cyberspace, national cybersecurity strategies (including the re-structuring of the public sector in order to be better be able to combat cyber threats), and various economic issues. While no official confirmation on cyber defense related exchanges could be obtained, perusing the list of government agencies and ministries involved (Japan: National Information Security Center, National Security Secretariat, Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, Ministry of Defense; Israel: National Cyber Bureau), it seems clear that cyber defense issues were part of the discussion.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to arrive in Israel this Friday for a five-day official visit – the first Japanese head of government to visit the country since July 2006. According to media reports, Abe and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss a number of security-related topics, including cooperation in fighting cyber terrorism.

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