On July 6, Singapore and Japan signed a new pact on strengthening cybersecurity cooperation. The move was the latest in a series taken by the city-state to strengthen ties with key players in the cyber domain as it looks to confront growing challenges there.
As I have noted before, Singapore has been paying keen attention to the cyber domain as a developed, highly-networked country which relies on its reputation for security and stability to serve as a hub for businesses and attract talent. Cognizant of the threats it faces in the cyber realm, Singapore has taken several steps to counter them both with its partners as well as at home, with steps such as the mulling of new laws to the setting up of a new Cyber Security Agency (CSA) (See: “Singapore Unveils New ASEAN Cyber Initiative”).
The CSA, which was set up in April 2015, was founded to serve as the coordinating body overseeing national cybersecurity under the Prime Minister’s Office and with management from the Ministry of Communications and Information. One of its lines of effort in this respect is to build partnerships with other countries that Singapore can work with in this area. And that is exactly what it has been doing. So far, the CSA has signed six memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with France, India, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as a declaration with Germany.
On September 18, Singapore and Japan signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on the sidelines of the 2017 iteration of the Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) which started being held last year. The MOC was signed by the chief executive of the CSA David Koh as well as Ikuo Misumi, the deputy director-general of the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) in Japan.
The inclusion of Japan to this list of partners is not surprising. As I have noted before, Japan and Southeast Asian states share concerns about cyber challenges and Tokyo has been looking to engage the subregion more both at a bilateral and regional level (See: “Japan-ASEAN Cyber Cooperation in the Spotlight”). Singapore and Japan more specifically have also already been working on cyber issues bilaterally and multilaterally.
The MOC is nonetheless a further step in the development of bilateral ties in this realm. According to the CSA, it covered cybersecurity cooperation in key areas including policy dialogues, information exchanges, collaboration to enhance cybersecurity awareness, joint regional capacity-building efforts, as well as sharing of best practices.