With cyber threats becoming a major shared concern, India and Japan on Wednesday agreed on the text of an agreement for robust and resilient digital and cybersecurity systems. This was one of the major takeaways from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s meeting with Japanese Foreign minister Toshemitsu Motegi in Tokyo.
In a clear signal towards China’s aggressive and assertive approach, the two ministers also noted the similarities in their respective Indo-Pacific visions, stressing on the rule of law and “respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Sources privy to the talks told the The Indian Express that the agreement with Japan is a “key element”, considering the Covid-19 pandemic has made countries, companies and institutions dependent on digital technology more than ever before.
“There is an immediate need to have robust agreements with like-minded countries to ensure security of the digital ecosystem in all sectors — from banking to defence,” the source said.
This year, Japan has been repeatedly hit by cyberattacks. A recent attack on Mitsubishi Electric may have resulted in information on a high-speed gliding missile under development being stolen. Tokyo is upgrading the cyber-defence capabilities of its National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity. Besides, Japan’s Ministry of Defence will expand its Cyber Defence Unit as increasing cyberattacks worldwide have threatened their military cybersecurity capacity.
An official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday, “Recognizing the increasing role being played by digital technologies, the two ministers highlighted the need for robust and resilient digital and cyber systems and in this context, welcomed the finalization of the text of the cybersecurity agreement.”
“The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others,” the statement said.
While India is yet to take a call on the involvement of Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE in the 5G rollout in the country, Japan’s top three carriers, NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank Corp, rolled out their 5G services late March ahead of Japan’s new fiscal year. Softbank has reportedly excluded Huawei and ZTE in the 5G network, although the Chinese firms were present in the 4G network.
On the Indo-Pacific strategy, the statement said that the two ministers concurred that the region had acquired greater salience in recent times and underscored the need for India and Japan to work together for the benefit of the region.
“Reaffirming the similarities in their respective Indo-Pacific visions, that are based on rule of law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Japanese side agreed to be the lead partner in the connectivity pillar of the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) and jointly take both countries’ respective visions for the Indo-Pacific forward,” the statement said.
The IPOI was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangkok last year, when the East Asia summit was held in early November. Japan, which has been witnessing Chinese PLA Navy’s belligerence in the region, wants to partner with India and other like-minded countries to take on Chinese behaviour.
The two ministers said that they looked forward to the next Annual Bilateral Summit in India at a mutually convenient time for the two prime ministers. The summit, which was to take place with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting Guwahati in December last year, was cancelled due to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Now, with a change of guard, and a newly appointed Yoshihide Suga as PM, New Delhi will be keen to host him.
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