By Sakaguchi Yuichi, Nikkei senior staff writer
The leader of the unit in charge of countering cyberattacks from overseas is required to have not only knowledge about cyberspace but also good investigative sense and the necessary negotiating skills to go up against foreign security organizations.
Since Kawahara was assessed as having all these qualifications, he assumed the post of first chief of the cyber police bureau at the National Police Agency (NPA) in April. He aims to strengthen cooperation with other countries by taking advantage of Japan’s ability to conduct precise investigations.
Kawahara was temporarily transferred to the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) in France seven years after joining the NPA and was engaged in improving the communications system there. He witnessed people from different countries and different generations exchanging opinions without hesitation and realized that they were all reasonable. “I still make it a rule to begin by listening closely to others,” he says.
Kawahara majored in biomedical engineering at graduate school. Once when he was collecting data from a hospital in order to improve medical equipment, a patient bowed to him and said “thank you.” He realized he could not cure patients because he was not a doctor, so he decided to pursue a career that would enable him to save people’s lives and decided to become a police officer.
That’s why he is eager to play a role on the frontlines of investigation despite being a technical officer. He previously served as foreign affairs division chief at the Hyogo Prefectural Police and Ishikawa Prefectural Police chief. Even in cyber investigations, he feels that being sympathetic to the feelings of the public is key.
His motto is: “Everyone is my teacher.” He says his experience as a police officer inevitably led him to adopt this belief.