As cyberattacks increase around the world, Japan’s Ministry of Defense plans to expand its Cyber Defense Unit (CDU) by increasing its numbers from an estimated 110 to 1000 soldiers tasked with the nation’s cyber defense, according to a recent report by The Diplomat. The CDU is a relatively new organization within the Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF), having been established in 2014. In addition to the increase in human capital, the MoD also plans on establishing a new working group that will study cyberwarfare techniques. A government source told Kyodo News that the initiative comes as part of a strategy to boost cybersecurity as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympia and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The source went on to insist that the CDU’s capabilities were meant to be purely defensive. “It is indispensable to study methods of attacks to build an appropriate defense posture,” he told the Kyodo News. “It is not for the Self-Defense Forces themselves to conduct a cyberattack.” As it stands, cyberattacks are classified as crimes rather than armed attacks under Japanese law, even when committed by a foreign military. In order for the SDF to legally deploy any cyberattack capability in defense of Japan’s infrastructure or military, it would be necessary to reclassify certain types of cyberattacks as armed attacks.
Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution prohibits Japan from possessing offensive weapons, though North Korea’s truculence over the last few years has led Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to push for revisions that would clarify some of its interpretation. Japan maintains fighter aircraft, various naval vessels, and an army as part of the Japanese Self Defense Force.
The current plan is to increase the number of soldiers in the CDU to 1000 by 2023.