Gov't security panel to discuss Japan's response to cyberattacks

A government panel of experts tasked with considering lifting Japan's self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense will discuss the country's response to cyberattacks, a government source said Monday.

The panel on the legal framework for Japan's security issues will examine whether Tokyo should exercise the right to coming to the defense of an ally in the event of international cyberattacks targeted at computer systems of the allied country, the source said.

It will also consider how Japan will deal with progress in space development, according to the source. Japan and the United States have cooperated on space security issues in view of China's expansion of its activities in the area outside the earth's atmosphere.

Under its current interpretation of the pacifist Constitution, Japan does not permit itself to exercise the right because doing so would go beyond the self-defense allowed under the war-renouncing Article 9 of the supreme law.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to change that interpretation and the panel is expected to compile a report in the fall that calls on the government to lift its self-imposed ban on the right to collective self-defense, according to several panel members.

The planned discussions on Japan's response to cyberattacks at the panel are apparently aimed at presenting a specific example of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense to gain public understanding toward the change of the constitutional interpretation.

The move also reflects the policy of the United States, Japan's closest ally, to beef up countermeasures against cyberattacks and focus on space security issues.

The panel was reestablished after the Liberal Democratic Party headed by Abe regained power last December. Its previous report in 2008 stated that Japan can only use the right to collective self-defense when defending U.S. naval vessels attacked on the high seas, or intercepting ballistic missiles targeting U.S. soil.

The new report to be submitted to the government possibly in the fall will likely recommend that the right should be allowed to be exercised comprehensively, rather than simply presenting applicable situations, the panel members said.