15 May 2024

Japan, AUKUS and cyberwarfare

William A. Stoltz

Cooperating to strengthen Japan’s cyber defences and develop new offensive cyberweapons must be the first priority of any AUKUS collaboration involving Japan. Not only is this now key to Japan’s security, but it is a vital precursor before Australia, Britain and the US can trust that deeper involvement by Japan in the military pact can take place.

AUKUS exists to develop strategic weapons and technologies required to deter China and other states from threatening the peace of Australia’s region. The prospect of Japan joining the pact could improve the speed and scope of such technology development, bolstering the credibility of present efforts to deter China as the world scrambles to reduce the prospect of war.

This month, AUKUS defence ministers announced that Japan’s incorporation into AUKUS is being ‘considered’, but they have remained tight-lipped as to what specific technology development Japan would be included in. We do know, however, that Japan’s involvement would focus on the development of so-called advanced capability projects under Pillar 2 of the pact. This encompasses the development of underwater drones, quantum technology, artificial intelligence, hypersonic weapons, electronic warfare systems and advanced cyber capabilities. Those technologies are key to Australia’s and Japan’s ability to defend themselves in a future war and have been prioritised in the Australian government’s recent National Defence Strategy. It is in the area of offensive and defensive cyber capabilities that collaboration with Japan is most urgent.

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