By Qi Zhiping
It is learned that Japan plans to create a so-called active cyber defense framework and write this in the National Security Strategy revised this year, thus authorizing relevant government agencies to carry out normalized patrol and other activities in cyberspace, especially network intrusions in a non-combat state.
If Japan puts this plan to seek a military breakthrough in cyberspace into practice, it will be the latest proof of its attempt to subvert the post-WWII international order and negate its pacifist constitution. It is also an extremely irresponsible and dangerous move that will cause instability and conflict in cyberspace.
Cyberspace should not be the new domain for Japan to repeat military expansion. Upholding the pacifist constitution is Japan’s special obligation under international law. Creating preemptive military forces in cyberspace and carrying out “network intrusions” violates the obligation of Japan as a losing party in WWII. On the one hand, Tokyo is ostensibly rooting for the full application of international law in cyberspace; on the other hand, it, with the excuse of cyber defense, tries to use cyberspace to secretly revise the constitution and expand its military forces.
In 2014, the country formed a “cyber defense unit” directly under the defense minister, which was later split and inserted into the cyber combat unit of the Ground, Maritime and Air self-defense forces, poised to expand to more than 1,000 people by 2023. If the so-called active cyber defense framework is written into the security strategy document, which then serves as the basis for network intrusions, Japan may be able to break through the defense only restriction first in cyberspace.
Cyberspace should not be a geopolitical arena. For some time, the US, in its narrow perspective of major-country competition, has introduced military alliance and ideological divergences into cyberspace to stir up major-country confrontation and divide the digital domain. As a losing party in WWII, Japan should have cherished the peaceful environment today even more, but it is nevertheless intensifying its coordination with the US in the online military domain. In May this year, then Japanese defense minister Kishi Nobuo visited the US Cyber Command for the first time, and Tokyo was requesting closer military cooperation with NATO in cyberspace. Japan is catering to the US and changing cyberspace into a new battlefield.
The cyber issue should not be the new tool for Japan to muddy the waters in the Asia Pacific. Cyberspace is becoming a new position of Japan’s efforts to counter and curb China and draw conflicts to the East. The Japanese side has been following the US in groundlessly smearing and attacking China on cybersecurity in total disregard of facts. Its new draft cybersecurity strategy issued in 2021 listed China as a cyber threat along with Russia and DPRK in an attempt to fabricate the new "China threat". In the meantime, it is the only East Asian country that has signed the so-called Declaration for the Future of the Internet initiated by the US, sparing no effort to squeeze into the various US-led small circles of cybersecurity while essentially playing to America’s wrong China policy in the cyber domain.
Japan’s passive behaviors will sabotage regional peace and development, a situation that has come along the hard way. Statistics show that the information and communications industry of East Asia and Southeast Asia accounts for nearly 70% of the world, and cyber and digital cooperation is the new highlight in Asian Pacific development. Japan’s military adventures in cyberspace will aggravate the risk of cyber conflicts and dim the regional prospects of digital development. Such a typical move against the trend of the time will surely repel the public.
Japan should think about the counter effects of its network intrusions. The Internet is now enmeshed in every aspect of people’s lives. Any cyber conflict may have effects of such coverage and depth beyond its imagination and control. Network intrusion under Japan’s so-called active defense framework will not make it feel more secure; rather, it will easily cause misjudgment and escalate the situation to be out of control, even from cyberspace to the physical space, lending a heavy blow to the highly digitally dependent Japanese society.
Cyberspace is the common space for all humanity. A secure, stable and prosperous cyberspace is important for all countries and the world in general. We advise the Japanese side to act cautiously, stick to the road of peaceful development, and not make any military adventures in cyberspace, or it will only end up hurting itself.
(The author is an observer of international issues)
Editor's note: Originally published on huanqiu.com, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.