The Ministry of Defense is accelerating its efforts enhance its capabilities in the fields of cyber defense and space surveillance. It is considering launching a special in-house body to act as a command center and plans to increase personnel in charge of cyber defense by 40% to 150 in fiscal 2018. Outer space and cyberspace are known as “the fourth and fifth battlefields” after ground, sea, and air, and various countries are vying with each other to step up their capabilities. The subject will become a focal point of discussions on the defense guidelines set to be reviewed within 2018.
The new in-house organization that will serve as a command center will be staffed by personnel from the air, ground, and maritime branches of the Self-Defense Forces and launched as early as in 2020. It will be at the same level as the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Self-Defense Fleet and the Air Self-Defense Force’s Air-Defense Command, and will be tasked with leading the “cyber defense unit” specializing in dealing with cyberattacks and a space surveillance unit.
The Defense Ministry also plans to boost its personnel in these areas. It will increase the cyber defense unit’s staff to 150 from the current 110 in fiscal 2018 and continue to increase it in fiscal 2019 and onward.
In terms of space, the ministry plans to set up a unit that will exclusively focus on monitoring the situation in space. A special radar will be installed at the former site of MSDF’s Sanyo signal receiving station (Sanyo Onoda, Yamaguchi Prefecture) to monitor space debris.
The most pressing issue is the development of human resources. The SDF is short of personnel who are knowledgeable about IT and space matters. “We can install equipment and systems by spending money, but it takes time to develop specialists,” said a senior MOD official. The ministry is considering recruiting personnel from outside, but skilled candidates are also in high demand in the private sector, where the pay is higher. “There is a limit to how many people we can hire under the public sector’s pay system,” said a source close to the MOD. (Abridged)