Partnerships in Japan, what is all the fuss about?
With China land-grabbing South Sea islands to their south, North Korea threatening shipping to their east and Russia, their northern neighbour, engaged in open warfare in Eurasia, Japan has every reason to be increasing their defence spending and concerned partner nations are all keen to strengthen relations in support.
In the UK Govt’s Integrated Review, Japan was described as “one of our closest strategic partners” and in December 2022, the UK and Japan, along with Italy, confirmed plans to develop the next generation of attack aircraft together in the Global Combat Air Programme.
In January 2023 a massive UK-Japan Defence Agreement was signed and in May, at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, the UK-Japan Hiroshima Accords were signed. All of this means huge trade opportunities between the two nations and the Agreement and the Accords both specifically mentioned cyber as being an important component for future collaboration.
NCSC Cyber First hits Japan
As part of a wider partnership, the UK National Cyber Security Centre has exported the hugely successful CyberFirst Programme to Japan to help stimulate cyber education for 14-18 year olds and the first set of student certificates are being presented in Tokyo on Thursday. Looking closer to home, Cyber Wales has had a proactive relationship with the Japan Cluster of Security Professionals for 6 years, including exchange visits, company formations, trading, and exchange students studying cyber. In line with the UK-Japan Hiroshima Accords, this relationship has now spawned Cyber Hiroshima, the first cyber security cluster of its kind in Japan launched in partnership with Cyber Wales in September 2023.
Joining forces once again, Cyber Wales was represented at the CyberFirst ceremony this week and, to commemorate the achievements of the students, staged a Capture the Flag cyber competition for all the students. The Cyber Hiroshima team managed the CTF at the Ambassador’s Residence in the British Embassy, Tokyo while Cyber Wales member company, SudoCyber, ran the CTF labs from their headquarters in Brecon. Their award-winning gamified online learning platform, capable of delivering cyber training in any language, ran labs simultaneously in English and Japanese. With challenges ranging from ‘obvious’ to ’ninja’ levels, covering a wide range of topics from the cyber kill chain, there was something for everyone in the fast-paced competition and prizes for the Red Team and the Blue Team winners.
Future ambitions for Cyber Hiroshima
Cyber is considered the 5th domain in defence terms, sitting alongside Land, Sea, Air and Space. As such, it is a critical component of defence programmes and, as the UK cyber ecosystem has demonstrated, Cyber clusters play an important role in a whole-of-society approach to cyber resilience. It is hoped that Cyber Hiroshima will be the first of many cyber clusters across Japan in the years to come that means more partnerships.