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SECURITY > Cybersecurity

Counter-cyberattack capabilities to be explicitly mentioned in National Defense Program Guidelines

  • November 30, 2018
  • , Yomiuri , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

The outline of the new “National Defense Program Guidelines” was disclosed on Nov. 29. The guidelines are to be drafted by the government next month. The outline includes equipping the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) with “counter-cyber capabilities” and fortifying their “capabilities to block” enemy troops by using electromagnetic waves. The outline clearly shows an intent to improve the SDF’s capabilities to handle threats in “new domains,” including outer space and cyberspace.


The government is poised to explicitly designate “cyberspace as [being] of life-and-death importance in modern-day war” and to include “the possession of capabilities to block enemy use of cyberspace” in the new guidelines. The scenario in mind is interrupting an enemy’s communications network in times of emergency. More specifically, the government is considering such methods as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which paralyze an enemy’s servers by bombarding them with huge volumes of data.


The Japanese government has an “exclusively defense-oriented policy.” For this reason, it envisions making DDoS attacks on an enemy in the event that Japan is subject to a weapons attack and a cyberattack at the same time. It deems counterattacks against an “organized and systematic exercise of force based on a state’s will” to not be in violation of the exclusively defense-oriented policy.


Capabilities to obstruct communications by using electromagnetic waves will be fortified to handle “electronic warfare.” Electromagnetic waves have come to be used more and more in recent years for such operations as missile guidance using infrared sensors and coordinating troops by harnessing satellite communications networks. If the enemy’s communications network can be  interrupted by powerful electromagnetic waves, it is possible to incapacitate an enemy attack. The government is poised to include “steadily developing equipment to bolster electronic warfare capabilities” in the new guidelines. (Abridged)

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