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International relations

Japan names China, Russia and North Korea as cyberspace threats

'Tough countermeasures' planned as Tokyo drafts 3-year defensive strategy

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, left, attends a meeting on cybersecurity strategy at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Sept. 27.   © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese government adopted on Monday a draft cybersecurity strategy for the next three years, naming China, Russia and North Korea as cyberattack threats for the first time.

The strategy, expected to be endorsed by the Cabinet soon, said the situation in cyberspace contains the "risk of rapidly developing into a critical situation" and that the three states are suspected of being involved in hostile cyber activities.

It also said Japan will take "tough countermeasures using every effective means and capability available," including diplomatic responses and criminal prosecutions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato urged members of the Cybersecurity Strategic Headquarters to "work with local governments while giving sufficient consideration to gaining the public's trust and steadily implement measures stated in the strategy."

Japan did not confirm any cyberattacks affecting the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, he said.

Japan will accelerate cooperation in the cyber field with its partners in the Quad framework -- the United States, Australia and India -- as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the draft strategy said, in an apparent effort to counter China's growing clout.

From the standpoint of eliminating risks to economic activities, the strategy noted the need to ensure that critical infrastructure such as submarine cables are well protected and to create new safety and reliability standards for IT devices.

With the launch of the Digital Agency on Sept. 1 for promoting digitalization of the country, the draft called for simultaneous promotion of cybersecurity and digital reforms.

The strategy, which will replace the current one adopted in July 2018, triggered criticism from China as being "groundless slander" against China and Russia when it was compiled in July.

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