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Editorial: Govt, companies must work together to protect national economic security

  • March 13, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 1:05 p.m.
  • English Press

With the advance of technological innovation in the telecommunications fields, corporate activities have become closely related to national security. A strategic approach on the part of the government is indispensable.

 

In April, the government will establish a new economic department in the National Security Secretariat of the National Security Council, which is chaired by the prime minister. It is appropriate to strengthen measures to deal with trade policies and other issues involving national security.

 

The spread of artificial intelligence and big data has revolutionized all industries. The struggle for hegemony between the United States and China is intensifying to maintain technological superiority.

 

China is working on “civil-military integration” to strengthen its defense capabilities by utilizing technologies in the private sector. Chinese companies, such as major telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co., are leading in developing the 5G next-generation communications standard.

 

In response to these Chinese moves, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump considers Huawei and others as security threats and banned U.S. companies from doing business with them. It is also preparing a law to control exports of key technologies.

 

In light of such an international environment, Japan also must act quickly to deal with the issue.

 

Government action so far includes setting guidelines for government procurement of telecommunications equipment and eliminating equipment at risk of the outflow of technologies.

 

From now on, the government plans to restrict investment by foreign investors and others in Japanese companies. The move is aimed at preventing information theft in fields related to national security, such as space and nuclear power. It is essential to establish a system to properly examine such cases.

 

It has been said that universities and research institutes, among others, have poor information management. It is important for the public and private sectors to work together to establish a system to prevent the outflow of technology.

 

Japan should communicate well with and closely cooperate with the U.S. government to tackle the issue.

 

Excessive intervention in private economic activities and research and development could hamper healthy competition. It will be necessary to keep in mind the balance between security policies and the maintenance of corporate competitiveness.

 

There are many problems to be solved as soon as possible. For instance, the government has submitted a bill to the current Diet session to support the development budget to encourage the spread of domestically produced drones.

 

The majority of drones in Japan are made in China. As they spread to a wide range of fields, including disaster preparedness and logistics, there is growing concern that they will be used to collect information improperly or attack important facilities. It is hoped that the government will ensure that the bill will be smoothly passed into law.

 

Due to the spread of infections with the new coronavirus, parts procurement from China has been delayed, forcing automakers and other industries to cut production.

 

Excessive concentration of production bases could shaken the foundations of industry. Diversification of supply chains, the supply networks for parts, is required.

 

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