Cyberspace is the fifth field of military operations, says Japan

By linking cyberwar to traditional warfare, the UN Charter on the right to self-defense comes into operation. This provides the legal ground for nations to defend themselves both reactively and proactively. Back in April a meeting of Japan’s National Information Security Center was held at the Prime Minister's Office. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said, “After examining all aspects of the issue, we concluded it is appropriate that existing international laws be applied to cyberspace.”

This interpretation has now been applied with an announcement from the Defense Ministry at the end of last week. Cyberspace is now officially recognized as the fifth sphere of military operations. A new special defense force (SDF) of about 100 members will be formed next year, and new guidelines on cyber defense were announced. It is thought that the Defense Ministry will seek a budget of 10 billion yen in fiscal 2013 for funding cybersecurity.

The SDF will seek to enhance its knowledge and capabilities through cooperation with both the private sector and the international community. It will become the new center for cyber security, taking on some of the operations currently undertaken by the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense forces. It will work to improve security defenses through a better understanding of malware methodologies and how to counteract them. However, reports the Daily Yomiuri, the guidelines also make it clear that “if a cyber-attack occurs as part of an armed offensive strike, the situation warrants exercising the nation's right to self-defense.”

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