The Japanese military is set to add hundreds of new cybersecurity specialists to its forces in the face of aggression from hostile nations, according to a new report.
Ministry of Defense plans seen by Nikkei revealed that there were 660 such personnel in the country’s Self Defense Forces (SDF) at the end of fiscal 2020. However, the plan is to increase this figure to 800 by the end of March 2022 and over 1000 by the end of 2023.
A single unit will also be created to look after unified cybersecurity for all three branches of the Japanese military — land, sea and air — in a bid to boost efficiency.
Such expertise is sorely needed in the face of increasing hostility from Chinese and Russian state-backed hackers and organized cybercrime.
In May last year, the government revealed it was investigating a potentially serious breach of national security after prototype plans for a hypersonic missile may have been stolen from Mitsubishi Electric.
The firm was purportedly bidding for a contract for the next-generation military technology, which has plunged the US, Russia and China into yet another arms race.
Sensitive employee data was also taken from the industrial giant by state operatives, it was reported.
According to a recent report from the British think-tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Japan lies at the bottom of a global “cyber power” ranking.
Despite its reputation for innovation, the country struggles to match the Five Eyes nations due to constitutional constraints on data collection, the report claimed. It was assessed as Tier Three, the lowest of the three-grade scale.
Alongside the new cyber recruits to the SDF, Japan’s defense ministry is also hiring experts from outside companies like NTT and LAC to work as part-time advisors.
A new cybersecurity training course was recently introduced at the Ground Self-Defense Force’s engineering school, and another program may be set up in collaboration with NTT, according to the report.