Japan and India started their cybersecurity dialogue

Initial Disclosure Date: Jul 24, 2012
Updated: Dec 10, 2012

On November 5, 2012, the Japanese and Indian governments held their first Japan-India Cyber Dialogue in Tokyo. Headed by Ambassador Osamu Imai in charge of cyber policy, the Japanese side included officials from the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Communications, and National Police Agency. The Indian delegation was led by Special Secretary Asoke Mukerji, Ministry of External Affairs. (footnote:ⅰ)

This dialogue was decided at the Sixth Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue on April 30. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna recognized that cyber-attacks raised serious concerns over national security. They agreed to cooperate on this issue including through discussions on an international code of conduct and launching bilateral talks on cybersecurity issues. (footnote:ⅱ)

There are three notable points in this new partnership between the two countries: first, security cooperation between Japan, India, and the United States has been stronger recently. Second, relations between Japan and India are also strengthening including the security area. Finally, although the Sixth Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue did not specifically refer to China, both countries have to counter their mutual threat, namely Chinese cyber-attacks, in their bilateral collaboration.

First, Washington is strengthening the alliances in the Asia-Pacific, as its pivot strategy to Asia implies as China rises and the United States withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan. More robust relations between Japan, India, and the United States are a part of such U.S. efforts. India-Japan-US Trilateral Dialogues have been held three times so far --- first in Washington in December 2011, second in Tokyo in April 2012, and third in Delhi in October 2012. As of October 26th, 2012, what has been discussed in the Dialogues is not open to the public in detail. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the three governments broadly discussed common interests including regional affairs and global challenges in the Asia Pacific region. (footnote:ⅲ) Thus, it is uncertain how much the three countries have recognized cyber-threats and started cybersecurity cooperation.

Second, relations between Japan and India are also becoming tighter in various fields including security. Both countries share values including democracy, human rights, rule of law, and market economy. The visit of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to India in 2000 added momentum to robust partnership. Furthermore, the two countries have common interest in regional stability and the safety of sea lanes, which requires stronger security cooperation. In 2008, the governments issued the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation between Japan and India. (footnote:ⅳ) They are concerned about rising China, especially its string of pearls strategy (China is establishing its choke points in the Indian Ocean, surrounding India) as well as China’s assertiveness in the East and South China Seas. Robust partnership between Japan and India is desirable to the United States in addition to the relationship between the three countries, because Washington recently devised the New Defense Strategy, which emphasizes the Asia-Pacific due to the rise of China. At the 2 + 2 Dialogue on October 22, the two countries agreed to continue to discuss emerging issues including cybersecurity. (footnote:ⅴ)

Finally, even though the Sixth Japan-India Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue did not specifically mention China, both countries have to counter their mutual threat, namely Chinese cyber-attacks, in their bilateral collaboration. In fact, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), a think tank funded by the Indian Ministry of Defence, underscores the bilateral cooperation to deal with Chinese cyber-attacks in its paper released after the Dialogue.

On May 16, 2012, the IDSA published a paper, “India’s Cyber Security Challenges,” and warned that China is rapidly improving its Information War capability. “Historically speaking, China studied Gulf War I in detail and analysed that it could not defeat the USA with numbers or in technology. It therefore adopted the concept of asymmetric war based on vulnerabilities of the USA in the cyber domain.” Thus, “[t]hrough a process of cyber espionage, reverse engineering, source-code sharing, manufacture of hardware, supported by a huge human resource (HR) base, China has greatly developed its capacity in [Information War] to formidable proportions.” (footnote:ⅵ)

This paper introduces Japan as one of the Top 10 countries in a USA assessment of cyber-warfare threat matrix, covering over 175 countries and organizations. The top ten is China, Russian business network, Iran, Russia, Russia tied with France, extremist/terrorist groups, Israel, North Korea, Japan, Turkey, and Pakistan. (footnote:ⅶ)

In a symposium after the release of the paper, Lieutenant General Aditya Singh, Commander-in-Chief of the Army’s Southern Command and also one of the authors of the report, claimed that India should prepare for cyber-attacks as an enemy of China. He also pointed out the importance of cybersecurity cooperation with Japan, because Japanese has advanced technology to counter cyber crimes. Harsh Jain, Joint Secretary (IT), Ministry of External Affairs, stated that Indian delegation including senior ranking officials and CERT-IN members will visit Japan in July 2012. (footnote:ⅷ) “India has ongoing cyber security dialogues with Japan, South Korea, and the United States.” (footnote:ⅸ)

China has started cyber-attacks on Japan and India, according to a report, “Research Paper 2012: Luckycat Redux --- Inside an APT Campaign with Multiple Targets in India and Japan,” published by Trend Micro in March 2012. In this Luckycat campaign, attackers have conducted 90 attacks against the following industries/communities in India and Japan: aerospace, energy, engineering, shipping military research, and Tibetan activists. Although Trend Micro did not identify attacked companies in its publication, they “were able to connect the email address used to register one of the Luckycat C&C servers” to a Chinese hacker. The attackers used triple tragedies after the Great East Japan Earthquake to lure the receivers of targeted emails into opening malicious PDF attachment. One of such attachments dubbed the result of radiation dose measurement near the Fukushima nuclear power plant. (footnote:ⅹ)

According to the New York Times on March 29 and 30, 2012, the newspaper attributed the Luckycat attacks to a Chinese man, using one of his aliases he used. He studied at Sichuan University between 2003 and 2006, when he wrote several articles about cyber-attacks and his master thesis was about computer attacks and prevention strategies. He works at Tencent, a Chinese Internet company. He said, “I have nothing to say” about the alleged cyber-attacks. (footnote:ⅹⅰ)


  1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “The 1st Meeting of Japan-India Cyber Dialogue,” November 5, 2012
  2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Visit to India by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba (Overview),” April 30, 2012
  3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Puresu ririsu: Nichibeiin kyogi dai 3 kai kaigo no kaisai [Press Release: the 2nd Japan-India-U.S. trilateral dialogue],” October 26, 2012
  4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Saikin no Indo josei to nichiin kankei [Recent situation in India and relations between Japan and India],” December 2008
    Jeffrey W. Hornung, “Shared regional interests draw Japan and India closer,” The Japan Times, September 7, 2011
  5. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Nichi Indo gaimu jikan taiwa, jikan-kyu ‘2 + 2’ taiwa, jikan-kyu seimu kyogi (gaiyo) [Overview on the Japan-India Vice Foreign Minister-Foreign Secretary Level Dialogue, Japan-India 2 + 2 Dialogue, and Japan-India Foreign Office Consultations],” October 23, 2012
  6. Nitin Desai, et el., “India’s Cyber Security Challenge,” Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (May 2012)
  7. Nitin Desai, et el., “India’s Cyber Security Challenge,” Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (May 2012)
  8. Sankei Shimbun, “Joho senso Indo, Chugoku wo keikai saiba tero Nihon to taisaku kyoka [India raises its alert against Chinese Information War and strengthens cooperation with Japan],” May 18, 2012
  9. Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, “Press Release: National Security Adviser Releases IDSA Taskforce Report on India’s Cyber Security Challenges,” May 16, 2012
  10. Trend Micro, “Research Paper 2012: Luckycat Redux --- Inside an APT Campaign with Multiple Targets in India and Japan,” March 2012
  11. Nicole Perlroth, “Case Based in China Puts a Face on Persistent Hacking,” The New York Times, March 29, 2012
    David Darboza, “Chinese Company and Employee Deny Any Involvement in Hacking Attacks,” The New York Times, March 30, 2012
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