Japan Joins Key NATO Cyber Agency

Japan has become the latest US ally to join NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), in a move likely to anger Moscow.

Former Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, confirmed on a visit to Estonia four years ago that the East Asia giant would join the center.

However, it wasn’t until Friday that the country formally confirmed its place. Defense Minister Seiichi Hamada revealed the news at a press conference, according to the Jiji news agency.

Although a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official has apparently been stationed at the CCDCOE since 2019, the latest announcement should signal the start of a more formal arrangement.

“JMOD will formally join NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence’s activities, following the completion of participation procedures. JMOD will continue to collaborate with international partners to respond to threats in cyber domain,” noted a brief tweet from the MoD.

Japan will join other non-NATO members such as Australia and South Korea as contributing participants.

It has already participated in last year’s “Locked Shields” cyber war-gaming exercise.

Based in Estonia, the CCDCOE is involved in a range of activities in cyber-defense research, training and exercises that span four focus areas: technology, strategy, operations and law.

As such, it plays a key role in shaping NATO responses in the cyber domain, now officially recognized as a legitimate military domain and part of Article 5. This is the “collective defense” section of NATO’s founding treaty which stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all.

Japan’s newly formalized position with the CCDCOE comes just months after it was agreed that Ukraine should be admitted as a contributing participant.

The moves will help to further build and strengthen an alliance of democracies against the growing cyber-threat from autocracies like Russia, China and North Korea.

The CCDCOE was founded in 2008 after a series of massive cyber-attacks in Estonia the year before crippled the country for weeks. The attacks were blamed on Russian hackers.

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