Japan, ASEAN to beef up private sector cybersecurity cooperation

Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will seek to beef up private sector cybersecurity cooperation amid China’s growing regional influence, Japanese government sources said Sunday.

Stakeholders and relevant parties from both sides, including nongovernmental organizations, will sign an agreement in Tokyo this week ahead of a summit in the Japanese capital in December to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN friendship and cooperation, according to the sources.

The agreement, which will see cybersecurity collaboration between Japan and ASEAN nations reinforced, will be included in a joint statement at the December summit, they said.

The Japanese government has been providing support for developing professionals among governments of ASEAN members through training programs at the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in Bangkok, operated under the leadership of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

In recent years, cyberattacks targeting companies and private organizations have been drawing attention globally, with China suspected of being involved in some of the attacks.

Japan and ASEAN are eyeing enhancing the capacity of both the public and private sectors in countering such cyberattacks.

At meetings slated for Thursday and Friday in Tokyo, ASEAN cybersecurity firms will brief Japanese companies about their businesses with the aim of striking up new partnerships.

Japanese Digital Minister Taro Kono is planning to attend the gathering, while policy meetings will be also held by government officials involved in cybersecurity.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida unveiled a Japan-ASEAN comprehensive connectivity initiative last month in Indonesia when he attended an ASEAN-related summit, with the program including Japan’s commitment to help ASEAN members digitalize their infrastructure and enhance their cybersecurity, among other measures.

Kishida pledged to provide human resources development support in maritime safety and digitalization for 5,000 people over the next three years.

Substantial cooperation between Japan and ASEAN goes back to 1973 with the establishment of a forum on synthetic rubber, while China upgraded its official relationship with ASEAN to one of a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2021.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

BY NADEEM FAISAL BAIGA