Japan-UK cybersecurity cooperation is accelerating

Initial Disclosure Date: Jun 29, 2012

Japan and the United Kingdom have accelerated bilateral cybersecurity cooperation for the last couple of months. Tokyo and London exchanged a memorandum to strengthen defense cooperation in various areas including cyberspace on June 3, 2012, at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore. The two countries “[r]ecogniz[e] that current and emerging security issues including terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and cyber security and space security affect common interests of the [countries] as well as the international community.” Thus, they start “cooperation on cyber security and space security issues where opportunities arise, including multilateral fora.” This memorandum also suggests that the governments will begin negotiations for an information security agreement to protect classified information. (footnote:ⅰ)

Two weeks later, Tokyo and London held the first Japan-UK cyber dialogue between June 19th and 20th, 2012, in Tokyo, inviting the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japanese and UK Cabinet Offices. They discussed cybersecurity issues from economic and social/political perspectives. They also introduced their efforts such as the establishment of international rules, security challenges of cyber threats, current countermeasures against cyber crimes, and the protection of information security systems in order to explore potential areas of collaboration. (footnote:ⅱ)

This memorandum is based upon the joint statement released by the Prime Ministers Yoshihiko Noda and David Cameron after their summit meeting on April 10, 2012. The leadership decided to let the Defense Ministers sign the memorandum “at the next opportunity” and start negotiations on the information security agreement. “We recognise the immense benefits to world prosperity from the growth in the use of cyberspace and the importance of protecting the global security as well as free flow of information. We emphasise the need for states, the private sector and civil society to work together to secure these benefits. We will strengthen bilateral consultations on issues related to cyberspace and cooperate internationally to take forward the conclusion of the London Conference on Cyberspace in November 2011.” (footnote:ⅲ)

On May 2, 2012, Tatsuo Kawabata, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, and Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, had a meeting in London to release the Joint Statement on Internet Policy Issues. This reflects the joint statement by the Japanese and UK prime ministers one month ago. The two countries agreed to “[c]ooperat[e] with each other to accomplish international consensus at relevant international fora regarding Internet and cyber policies, so that the existing free flow of information continues to be enjoyed by both citizens and business alike in their respective Internet usage.” (footnote:ⅳ) Nevertheless, this statement does not refer to potential conflict between economic growth, “the free flow of information,” and national security issues. The governments need to discuss a balance between them.

The shared values such as democracy, constitutional monarchy, and market economy certainly helped Tokyo and London sign the memorandum including cybersecurity and information security cooperation within two months after the summit. There are two other possible reasons: first, cybersecurity and information security are indispensable for their joint development and production of defense equipment. Second, the London Conference on Cyberspace in November 2011 let Tokyo recognize the UK initiative and the necessity to cooperate with London.

First, unless the two countries strengthen their security cooperation including cybersecurity and information security, they cannot guarantee safe development and production of defense equipment. The two governments agreed on joint development and production during the summit meeting in April 2012. After Tokyo eased the Three Principles of Arms Exports in 2011, the United Kingdom is the first country after the United States, with which Japan agreed to jointly develop and produce arms. (footnote:ⅴ) Prime Minister Cameron fully understands the importance of entering the Japanese defense market and also industrial market, which will boost British exports and create a lot of jobs for British people. He accompanied representatives of British defense companies including BAE Systems and AgustaWestland. (footnote:ⅵ)

According to media reports in March 2012, the Chinese hacked into computers belonging to BAE Systems to steal classified data on F-35 stealth fighter jets for 18 months. This penetration delayed fighter development. Since the Japan Air Self Defense Force is planning to procure F-35 as Japan’s next-generation mainstay fighters, stronger cybersecurity and information security are Japanese interests as well. (footnote:ⅵ)

Finally, Japan appreciates the UK initiative to host the London Conference on Cyberspace and the two countries recognized the necessity of bilateral cybersecurity collaboration. When Defence Secretary Philip Hammond visited Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba in Tokyo on October 31, 2011, the foreign minister appreciated Foreign Secretary William Hague’s leadership to hold the conference and expressed Japan’s interest in promoting bilateral security cooperation including cybersecurity. (footnote:ⅷ)

Thus, the London Conference and summit meeting accelerated cybersecurity cooperation between Japan and the United Kingdom. They now understand the necessity to cooperate over cybersecurity and information security to jointly develop and produce defense equipment. Tokyo and London will face a huge challenge of how to balance between cybersecurity, regulations, and information freedom as they proceed with cooperation over cybersecurity and information security.


  1. Ministry of Defense, “Memorandum Between the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and the Japan Ministry of Defense Relating to Defence Cooperation,” June 3, 2012,
  2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nichiei saiba kyogi no kaisai nit suite [Japan-UK cyber dialogue],” June 20, 2012,
  3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Joint Statement by the Prime Ministers of the UK and Japan: A Leading Strategic Partnership for Global Prosperity and Security,” 10 April 2012,” April 10, 2012,
  4. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, “Joint Statement on Internet Policy Issues,” May 2, 2012,
  5. Arms exports had been basically banned under the Three Principles on Arms Exports. However, the amendment allowed Japan to export arms if they are: 1) to contribute to peace and international cooperation; or 2) to jointly develop or produce with a security partner or partners.
  6. Asagumo News, “Nichiei ryokoku sobihin kyodo kaihatsu de goi, 3 gensoku kanwa go, hajimete [The UK is the first country for Japan to agree with to jointly develop defense equipment after the amendment of the Three Principles of Arms Exports],” April 19, 2012,
    Nicholas Watt, “David Cameron seeks slice of Japanese defence contracts on Tokyo trip,” The Guardian, April 10, 2012,
  7. The Sunday Times, “Security experts admit China stole secret fighter jet plans,” March 12, 2012,
  8. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Puresu ririsu: Genba gaimu daijin to Hamondo Eikokubosho tono kaidan [Press release: meeting between Foreign Minister Gemba and Defence Secretary Hamond],” October 31, 2011,
※ Each company name, an organization name, and a brand name are a trade name of each company and each organization, or a registered trademark.